Early voting starts Saturday in the Republican primary for House District 114, but voters in the north end may have to drive further to cast a ballot.
This is already a low turnout race, a special election to replace former Democrat State Rep. Daisy Baez, who resigned last year after she was caught living outside her district and lying about it. Gov. Rick Scott called a special election just six months before the real election, presumably to give a Republican, who normally have the edge in special low turnout elections, an incumbency in November for an advantage in the swing seat.
Only three polling places will be open for early voting — the libraries in Coral Gables, Pinecrest and Cutler Bay. The library in Flagami and the West Miami Community Center, which are normally early voting locations, are not included in this race, even though there are voters that live in those precincts.
Does anybody else see a pattern here?
It’s also where a majority of the Cuban or Hispanic voters are concentrated. It’s where the lower income voters are concentrated. It’s probably also where the older voters are concentrated. They may not go if they have to get to Salzedo Street and University Drive in Coral Gables (exactly) to cast their ballots.
Is this voter supression? If Ladra didn’t know any better, we might think there was a concerted effort to keep Latino voters away.
A late night text to Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Christina White Thursday was not answered. But White has likely heard about this already. Pazos said that West Miami Mayor Eduardo Muhiña and newly-elected Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes — both of whom have consituents who are being disenfranchised — have written letters asking that the two northern polling places be open for early voting.
The other candidate in this primary is Andrew Vargas, an insurance lawyer and named partner of State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, who had signed up to run in House District 119 to replace Jeanette Nuñez, but changed to 114 as soon as Baez announced her resignation. It is widely rumored that Trujillo made the protests in front of Baez’s house happen to speed up her fall from grace so Vargas could run here instead in a special election. Andrew, of course, is expected to do better in Pinecrest et al than Jose.
The winner of this Feb. 20 election (more on this soon) will face Democrat lobbyist Javier Fernandez, who has no primary, in May — which will be another low-turnout special election.
The county and elections officials should be doing everything to engage as many voters as possible, especially in elections where already fewer people will be making this important choice. Perhaps Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, whose constituents are being disenfranchised at the worst and incovenienced at the least, should get involved. Or Miami GOP pres Nelson Diaz.
There is still time to do the right thing. Early voting starts at 8 a.m. Saturday. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Early voting ends Feb. 18 and is at the following locations:
- Coral Gables Branch Library, 3443 Segovia Street, Coral Gables
- Pinecrest Branch Library, 5835 SW 111th Street, Pinecrest
- South Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th Street, Cutler Bay
And, hopefully, at the West Miami Community Center and the Hispanic library branch in Flagami.