Yesterday, while Julio Rodriguez waited in line to cast his ballot at the John F. Kennedy library, the Hialeah voter noticed his city's mayor stumping for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. No big deal right? Wrong.
Carlos Hernandez was ignoring a local election law that prohibits people from campaigning within 100 feet of a polling station, Rodiguez claims. When a precinct supervisor informed Hernandez he had to stay back, the mayor left in a huff, Rodriguez says.
"Several people in line, including myself, heard him promoting Romney," Rodriguez recounts. "A poll watcher also overheard him and reported it to an election official."
Rodriguez claims Hernandez denied he was campaigning; that he was only greeting voters.
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"He was arguing back and forth," Rodriguez says. "But he was definitely campaigning. When the elections official insisted he had to stay behind the 100 foot line, he just left."
Hernandez's executive assistant Arnie Alonso denies the mayor was breaking the rules. "The mayor went by there to see the line," Alonso says. "That's it. Nothing more and nothing less."
Hernandez has been in the news in the past two weeks after he suspended city fire union vice-president Eric Johnson for two days without pay. Hernandez punished Johnson for photos the fireman posted on his personal Facebook page that the mayor complained insulted Hialeah residents.
Coincidentally, Johnson has led a crusade against the city's absentee ballot machine. His activism led to the arrests of two Hialeah residents who were caught holding dozens of absentee ballots before the Aug. 14 primary. In Miami-Dade, it is illegal for a person to possess more than two absentee ballots that does not belong to them.
Meanwhile, the lines for early voting remained absurdly long across Dade on Monday. Over the weekend, citizens around Miami-Dade waited between two to four hours to cast their ballots. Rodriguez says he was in line for about three hours before casting his ballot.
"There were about 100 to 150 people waiting in line," he says.
The main reason it is taking voters so much time is the fact that the ballot is 15 pages long.
According to the Department of State, nearly 1.9 million Flordians have already cast their ballots via absentee or at early voting sites. The total represents nearly 16 percent of the state's 11. million voters.