Miami-Dade, Broward elections closes, reopens doors

Mechanical issues, huge turnout slow down process

DORAL, Fla. - Voters in South Florida were given another opportunity to cast their ballots early after a surprise announcement.  The Miami-Dade elections department opened Sunday, allowing people to walk-in and request an absentee ballot.

The process also allows willing voters to fill-out a ballot and turn it in on the spot.

By law, early voting ended Saturday night, but the law does allow county supervisor of elections personnel to accept absentee ballots through election day at their discretion.

Miami-Dade opened its doors from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, but staff became overwhelmed by the turnout. Hundreds of people filled the line outside of the elections' headquarters in Doral hoping to cast a ballot.

"I already tried to do early voting twice and the lines were far too long and I was gonna be late to work if I stayed so I had to leave," Cynthia Harshaw said, explaining why she couldn't vote during the designated early voting days.

"It's been fine, they've been providing us with snacks every 30 minutes, bottled water constantly."

By nightfall, the line still wrapped around the building. Everyone in line by the 5pm cut off time was allowed to vote.

"I'm just surprised they're open because it's Sunday and it wasn't supposed to be an open day to vote," said voter Tonya Burke.

Earlier in the day, things turned chaotic when a machine to print out ballots malfunctioned. Staff members were also overwhelmed by the large turnout.

At one point, voters were being turned away after waiting several hours in line.

"Let us vote! Let us vote!", the crowd chanted.

After about an hour, more staff was called in and the broken printer was replaced which allowed the elections department to reopen it's doors.

"We did not expect this size crowd", said Miami-Dade Elections spokesperson Christina White. "But we don't want to disenfranchise anyone, we apologize so we're gonna make it happen."

Voters in Broward county also have the same opportunity to request absentee ballots in person and drop them off on the spot through election day. However, voters with appointments are given preferential treatment.

Copyright 2012 by Post-Newsweek Stations. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed