It’s Election Day in Florida. Voters across the Sunshine State are headed to the polls to cast ballots in local, statewide and federal races in the 2022 midterm elections.
In the Florida governor’s race, Gov. Ron DeSspanntis faces off against Democratic challenger and former governor Chspanrlie Crist. In a key U.S. Senspante rspance, incumbent Sen. Mspanrco Rubio is being challenged by Democrspant Vspanl Demings.
In another closely watched statewide race, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is going up against Democratic challenger Arspanmis Ayspanlspan.
Early voting:Numbers revespanl big DeSspanntis spandvspanntspange over Crist in governor’s rspance
Trump v. DeSantis:Trump-DeSspanntis feud overshspandows lspanst dspanys of midterm election cspanmpspanigning in Floridspan
Monday coverage:Live updspantes: Republicspanns DeSspanntis spannd Rubio, spannd Democrspants Crist spannd Demings, mspanke finspanl push
Governor debate recap:Five tspankespanwspanys from Floridspan governor rspance debspante between Ron DeSspanntis spannd Chspanrlie Crist
Senate debate recap:Five tspankespanwspanys from U.S. Senspante debspante between Sen. Mspanrco Rubio, Rep. Vspanl Demings
11:15 a.m. | Is Miami-Dade turning red? Voting numbers tell the story
Miami-Dade is one of the biggest and most coveted prizes for any statewide candidate in Florida, and Democrats have owned it for years.
Consider the fact that Miami-Dade hasn’t voted for a Republican since 1988 and hasn’t backed a Republican governor since 2002.
That may be changing this year. Early voting numbers show Republicans holding a slight edge of almost 4,000 votes over Democrats.
If the numbers hold up, it would represent one of the most dramatic electoral turnarounds in Florida history and may solidify the Sunshine State as a red, Republican state moving forward.
The tide began to turn in 2020 when Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Miami-Dade by just seven points, 53% to 46%. Biden got 617,864 votes compared to Trump’s haul of 532, 833 — a difference of only 85,031 votes.
Democrats dominated in 2016 when Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump in Miami-Dade, 64% to 34%.Clinton won 624,146 votes compared to Trump’s 333,999 — a difference of 290,147 votes.
11 a.m. | Florida rejects federal election monitors in South Florida
Florida’s top election official said Tuesday the state is not allowing federal monitors at polling locations because it’s counter to state law and that federal authorities failed to present any evidence for such an action.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning in Tallahassee, Secretary of State Cord Byrd said state officials “wanted to make it clear that [polling locations] are places for election workers and for voters, not for anyone else.”
The Justice Department said Monday it was deploying election monitors to 64 jurisdictions across the country, including three counties in South Florida: Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.
Federal monitors, drawn from the ranks of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and local U.S. attorneys’ offices, are regularly dispatched during election cycles in a attempt to ensure compliance with voter access provisions and guard against illegal interference and intimidation.
Brad McVay, an attorney with Florida’s Department of State, informed federal authorities in a letter Monday that they did not present any evidence warranting the use of federal monitors.
“None of the counties are currently subject to any election-related federal consent decrees,” he wrote. “None of the counties have been accused of violating the rights of language or racial minorities or of the elderly or disabled.”
In a separate election issue, Byrd dismissed criticism about why the state’s newly-created Office of Election Crimes and Security sent lists containing the names of hundreds of voters to county elections supervisors, urging they be screened and possibly prevented from voting because of felony convictions — and why they were sent so late.
“We regularly make the supervisors aware of people who we have an issue with, so we sent names down to the counties, which is our standard process,” Byrd said. “If someone became a felon last week, they’re prohibited from voting. This process goes up to Election Day, on Election Day and it will continue after Election Day.”
Most voters with felony convictions can be eligible to vote but they must have completed their prison sentences and paid all fines and restitution.
Voting rights advocates say it’s a confusing and chaotic process because no agency in the state keeps accurate records on a felon’s legal obligations, and that it should be up to local and state elections officials to verify a felon’s eligibility when they register to vote.
Byrd also said he expects election results to be completed by the end of the day on Tuesday. He said getting election results in a timely fashion “instills confidence” in the voting system.
9:45 a.m. | Early vote numbers show Republicans ahead of Democrats
Early vote tallies statewide show Republican voters continue leading Democratic voters.
Statewide, nearly 316,000 more GOP voters than Democratic ones had cast early ballots, either by mail or in person, according to the state elections office’s latest data released Tuesday morning.
In the state’s biggest county, Miami-Dade, Republicans hold an advantage of almost 4,000 more early votes than Democrats.
Historically, Democrats vote in higher numbers than Republicans and Democrats in Miami-Dade, and rely on a big margin of victory in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties to win statewide contests. Republicans rack up large margins in the state’s smaller and rural counties.
Early voter turnout also appears to be lagging the record turnout in 2018 when the election of then Republican candidate Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum went to a recount. DeSantis won the election by just 32,436 votes out of more than 8.2 million cast.
That year, the number of early voters — by mail or in-person — topped 5.2 mllion. So far this election season, with most in-person early voting ending statewide, the early voted count is under 4.8 million.
— USA Today Network-Florida staff