MIAMI: With the prediction of nail breaking Florida Senate and gubernatorial races, Miami-Dade County detailed their arrangements for the 1.405 million registered voters. Their website says “the elections department is here to serve you!” And true to its essence they are fully committed to serve the county residents and ask them to “please do not hesitate to email us with your questions and suggestions or call 311 for additional information”.
The Miami-Dade County office slogan is “voting is one of our constitutional rights and the key to our nation’s democracy. Through your vote, you exercise your right to be heard.” Thus, they provide the services to registered and potential voters – as county candidates and political committees, third-party organizations and the community at large.
Miami-Dade County encompasses more than 2,000 square miles (larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware) and has a population of 2.752 million. One-third of Miami-Dade County is located in Everglades National Park. The community is located along the southeast tip of the Florida peninsula. It is bounded by Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Everglades National Park to the west, the Florida Keys to the south and Broward County to the North.
Talking to the foreign journalists, the Supervisor of Elections – Christina White briefed a room full of eager reporters, covering the largest swing state of Florida about the arrangements made by the Miami-Dade county election office and distributed bags of “election ready” carrying an informative brochure about the elections and a “cool sunglasses with green handles and black frame.
Christina explained the reporters about the requirements to be a valid voter and methods by which a vote could be cast. To be a valid voter, one needs to be 18 years of age, U.S. citizen and be a resident of Miami-Dade County.
There are three ways to vote: by mail, through early voting and on the Election Day. The methods through which an individual can register is via registration paper application and a new way through “online registration” which was launched in the county on October 1, 2017. It is worth mentioning here, that state of Florida joins over 30 states in the U.S. to offer this method of voter registration.
Christina White informed the reporters that the registration closes 29 days prior to an upcoming election and the residents can register to vote anytime throughout the year.
One of the foreign correspondents from Africa asked Christina whether any international NGOs observe the elections, to which she responded by saying that “no observation is allowed by any non-profit organization or international NGOs to come at the Miami-Dade County office”.
Christina White briefed the reporters that the last day to register to vote or change the Party Affiliation was Tuesday, October 9, 2018. Also, she informed the journalists that the last day to request a Vote-by-Mail Ballot was Wednesday, October 31, 2018 and until now 308,000 VBM requests on file exist.
On early voting, she cited the dates of Monday, October 22 – Sunday, November 4, 2018, and hours of operation from 7 am to 7 pm. 28 sites have been set up for early voting throughout the County, including Florida International University, Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus and Miami-Dade College North Campus.
Christina closed her briefing by inviting the reporters to tour the facility of the election cell and offered her communications staff services for follow up questions.
When we left the Miami-Dade County office for our next appointment, we could see people pouring in, the majority of females and many had small accompanying children.
A young female who had just turned 18 years was excited to vote and said “the most important issue for her – is affordable college education and an increase in the hourly wages”. She was thoroughly satisfied with the Miami-Dade County election cell preparations and found the whole process smooth and efficient.
Exclusive News Report By Kanwal Abidi
White House Correspondent & Bureau Chief, Washington D.C.