Voters in two Miami-Dade legislative districts are going to the polls today to choose candidates to fill two vacant seats in the Florida Legislature.
Special elections are being held to fill 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.
Democrats have a keen interest in the Senate contest. They are hoping to take back a legislative seat that they lost in November when Artiles defeated incumbent Democrat Dwight Bullard.
District 40 has a large number of hispanic voters and leans Democratic.
Diaz has served in the House for seven years and says that experience gives him an advantage in terms of knowing the political process in Tallahassee.
Taddeo has unsuccessfully run for office four times. She ran twice for Congress and as Charlie Crist’s running mate in the 2014 race for governor.. She also ran for Miami-Dade County Commission.
Republicans currently hold a 24-15 seat advantage in the Senate heading into today’s special election.
In today’s other contest, House Disctrict 116 is a Republican leaning district and the GOP is expected to keep control of the seat.
This is the first political contest for Perez, who is a Miami attorney. Mayaudón, who says she moved to Miami seven years ago, is a former Venezuelan legislator.
As in most special elections, voter turnout is expected to be light. Miami Dade elections officials expect turnout to be somewhere between 10 and 15 percent.
There were 4,560 voters who cast their ballots during the nine-day early voting period which ended Sunday. Another 30,700 cast their ballots by mail as of Monday.