Hurricane Irma’s strong winds and storm surge caused a lot of problems for residents of Miami-Dade County. At one point about a half million electric customers were without power.
But, Irma doesn’t appear to have dampened the interests of local voters.
Despite the fact many residents are still cleaning up from the storm, and a call from the Florida Democratic Party to push back one of the elections, Miami-Dade elections officials decided to proceed with that county’s two special legislative elections on Sept. 26. Early voting began Saturday.
“We rely on the independent Supervisors of Elections to guide decision making on elections in their counties,” said McKinley Lewis, deputy communications director for Gov. Rick Scott. “(Miami-Dade County) Supervisor of Elections Christina White has requested to move forward with this election, and we will accept her guidance.”
According to the Miami-Dade County Elections Office, early voter turnout is running higher than in the primary election back in July.
“Early voting turnout for the first three days of the September 26, 2017 Special Election is 14 percent higher compared to the first three days of early voting turnout for the July 25, 2017 Special Primary Election,” said Suzy Trutie, Miami-Dade’s Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Government Affairs and Media Relations.
The elections are being held to fill two vacant seats in the Legislature–Senate District 40 and House District 116.
The candidates in the race for the Senate seat are Democrat Annette Taddeo and Republican former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.
That election was called to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. Artiles resigned earlier this year after making racist comments to another lawmaker at a Tallahassee restaurant.
The open House seat became vacant when Diaz decided to step down to run for Artiles’ Senate seat.
The two candidates in that race are Republican Daniel Perez and Democrat Gabriela Mayaudón.
“Traditionally, special elections in Miami-Dade County have a 10 to 15 percent turnout,” Trutie added. “The July 25, 2017 Special Primary had a 12 percent turnout.”
From Saturday through Tuesday, 905 early ballots have been cast in both contests.
As of Tuesday, more than 82,000 mail-in ballots had been requested. Over 24,000 of those ballots, or 29 percent, have been received back by the Miami-Dade elections office. Most of those were sent back the week before Irma hit South Florida.