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Welcome to The Americano’s live blog, bringing you breaking news and the most recent numbers from Florida’s races. Follow our blog for rolling updates as we approach Election Day.

Marco López Makes History as the First Hispanic Sheriff in Central Florida

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 3:39 pm

Marco López has become the first Puerto Rican sheriff in the history of Osceola county. The Democratic candidate prevailed over his compatriot, Luis “Tony” Fernández, a retired deputy who ran as an independent candidate.

“Growing up here, I’ve seen the diverse culture come up and I think [my win] is gonna benefit all people from all different ethnicities,” the former deputy sergeant, who had an unsuccessful run for sheriff in 2016, told The Americano.  

The new sheriff spoke of his plans to implement cultural and educational programs so everyone in his diverse community is fairly represented.

“We are going to employ more bilingual people, which is necessary. Right now, in the police department, 28% of employees are bilingual, while the Latin community represents 60% of the population,” López said from Kissimmee on the night of his election.

See our full story and interview with him HERE.

Judge Orders Postal Service ‘Ensure that No Ballots Have Been Held Up,’ Including in South Florida

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 11:37 am

At this time, the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan are too close to call. This was expected, since states have to add up absentee votes, early votes and day-of votes.

Early Wednesday morning, Trump attacked legitimate vote-counting efforts, casting doubts on their validity. He also threatened that he would go all the way to the Supreme Court to get “all voting to stop.” Trump’s campaign has threatened legal action to curtail counting in Pennsylvania, Joe Biden’s home state, where the typical late start on absentee ballot tabulations could hold up the process.

At the same time, the Sun Sentinel reports that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the U.S. Postal Service on Election Day to “ensure that no ballots have been held up” in more than a dozen places across the country, including South Florida.

Early Wednesday morning, appearing before supporters at the White House, President Trump cried foul over the election results, calling the process “a major fraud on our nation.”

Trump Projected to Win Florida

In one of the biggest calls yet and the first of a major swing state, President Trump is now projected to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes. Trump leads by about 400,000 votes with nearly 96% of the expected vote total reporting. — Keya Vakil

The Florida Amendments That Passed

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 11:14 p.m.

Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement To Vote in Florida Elections 

Amendment 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

Amendment 3: All Can Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

Amendment 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments

Amendment 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

Read what they mean for you HERE.

This is a developing story. Check back in for more updates as results come in.

Daniella Levine Cava Becomes First Female Mayor in Miami-Dade County

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 9:44 p.m.

In one of Miami-Dade County’s tightest races, voters gave Democrat Daniella Levine Cava the victory over Republican contender Esteban (Steve) Bovo for county mayor. Her victory establishes the Democrat as the county’s first female mayor, succeeding term-limited Carlos Giménez.

Levine Cava, who has been the representative in Commission District 8 since 2014, a position she resigned from to run for mayor, has a history of championing causes like women’s issues, climate change, discrimination, social justice, and gun violence. She bested Bovo 54 to 46 percent.

Read our full story HERE.

‘Everything Has to Change’: Why These Orlando Voters Cast Their Ballot

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 6:45 p.m.

In the midst of one of the most contentious, unpredictable election cycles in recent history, on Nov. 3 these voters in Orlando were sure of one thing: they needed to get their vote out.

Amanda Confoth, who is in a relationship with a woman from the Dominican Republic, believes the results of this election can potentially impact her life, and that of her partner. “I feel very driven to fight for our future, and I’m concerned about the issues that she and I may face with our relationship, with her citizenship,” she told The Americano. That, she says, is why she came out to vote. “This isn’t my first time voting, but I feel that the pressure is great right now. We need a clean slate [because] everything needs to change.”

Amanda Confoth
Image via Chris Lopez

For Camila Benavides, voting was a great source of anxiety. She didn’t receive her mail in ballot for the election, but hearing all the stories about “long lines and people closing everything down and not letting you vote and all the drama, I was realy very nervous about voting today,” she admitted. But because she feels the stakes are so high in 2020, Camila decided to face her fears and go vote in person. “I knew my anxiety was not as important as this election, [because] everything is at stake right now,” she said, In the end, she found that her fears were unfounded. “When I did go [to vote], everything was really smooth, everybody was friendly.”

Camila Benavides
Image via Chris Lopez

For Roberto Hernández, the times are “very emotional, very tough, because there’s a lot of racism. The Orlando voter is counting on a Biden win in order for Latinos to feel welcomed in this country. “If Mr. Biden wins, we’ll feel more support from him, because racism will change,” Hernández said. “The mentality has to change, but it must start with us.” And, as these voters suggest, it starts with our vote.

Roberto Hernandez
Image via Chris Lopez

9.1 Million Floridians Voted Even Before Polls Opened Up This Morning

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 11:10 a.m.

As of Monday evening, 9.1 million Floridians had cast their ballot by mail or at early voting, the Florida Division of Elections reported Tuesday morning. That represents a voter turnout of 63% before the polls opened at 7 a.m today.

Because Florida counts mail votes faster than other swing states, the Sunshine State, which is known for conducting very close presidential races, is being closely watched around the nation, as it could be an early indicator of the outcome of the presidential race.

Besides the presidential race, there are other big races for Congress, including Democratic incumbent Debbie Mucarsel-Powell against Republican rival Carlos Giménez for a seat in the state’s 26th congressional district. Six amendments to the Florida Constitution are also in play, including amendment 2, which seeks to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. ET to 7 p.m. ET in much of the state. Polls are open from 8 a.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET in the western Panhandle. 

The Last Push: Kamala Harris to Barnstorm Miami, Broward and Palm Beach Counties

Friday, Oct. 30, 10:50 a.m.

As Florida becomes the campaign capital of the nation in the push to secure its coveted 29 electoral votes, candidates rev up their efforts in the Sunshine State.

On Thursday, Joe Biden‘s campaign announced that Kamala Harris, the presidential contender’s running mate, will be in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties on Saturday, October 31st.

Additional details on Harris’s visit, which takes place on the second-to-last day of early voting, will be announced later, the campaign said.

RELATED: Latinos Are Really Excited to Vote, New Poll Shows. Their Top Issue Is COVID-19.

The California Senator first visited Florida in September after being named as Biden’s vice presidential running mate. On that occasion she campaigned in Miami, where she met with Black, Jewish and Hispanic voters.

Saturday’s trip was announced two hours before Biden’s campaign at a drive-in rally in Broward County, which has the largest number of Democratic voters in Florida and is a key battleground arena in the quest to defeat President Donald Trump statewide.

As of Thursday morning, the GOP’s early vote advantage has brought the Democrats’ overall vote by mail advantage down to about 206,000.

On Sunday, after church services in majority Black neighborhoods, Democrats across the state will hold rallies and marches in a get-out-the-vote effort known as “Souls to the Polls.”

Military Absentee Ballots Could Decide Who Wins Florida

Thursday, Oct. 29, 10:32 a.m.

The number of service members voting by absentee ballot could become a crucial factor in Florida, where one out of every five military absentee ballots was cast in the 2016 presidential election.

As of Oct. 22, nearly 48,000 absentee military ballots have been returned, compared to 33,000 on the same date in 2016, according to USPS.

“Florida is the key example that it can come down to a single state and not very many votes,” Jack Noland, a researcher for Count Every Hero, a nonpartisan military voting advocacy group told The Miami Herald. “It is not out of the realm of possibility… that some of these statewide or down-ballot races could be determined by overseas and military voters.”

RELATED: Report Says President Trump Called Military Members ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers

For this reason, military voting advocacy groups have expressed concern that the added strain on the U.S. postal system due to so many voting by mail because of the pandemic, could delay those votes. They are working to raise awareness that later deadlines for military absentee ballots means those votes must still be included, even if they arrive after Election Day.

Florida will accept military ballots through Nov. 13. But some service members are still reporting issues with receiving a ballot, the Herald reports.

Biden Holds Slight Edge Over Trump Among Likely Florida Voters

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 10:20 a.m.

A survey released Tuesday from Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) shows Democratic nominee Joe Biden holds a slight edge over U.S. President Donald Trump among likely Florida voters.

The former U.S. vice president leads Trump 50 percent to 48 percent, with 2.5 percent of respondents undecided and 6 percent saying they could change their minds.

Biden also led Trump 51 percent to 47 percent in FAU’s most recent poll, released on Oct. 13. In this latest poll, respondents were split on the winner of the second and last presidential debate, with each candidate earning 44 percent of the responses.

RELATED: From Jobs to Health Care, Here’s Where Biden and Trump Stand on Six Key Issues

The economy was the most important issue among respondents (37 percent), followed by the coronavirus (23 percent) and healthcare (19 percent). Those who said the economy is most important are siding with Trump, 80 percent to 16 percent, while those who cited the coronavirus are pulling for Biden, 82 percent to 14 percent.

The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

‘We Cannot Have This Kind of Incompetence’: Obama Slams Trump During Orlando Rally

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2:59 p.m.

Former President Barack Obama spoke at a drive-in rally in support of Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday in Orlando. Obama blasted President Trump, who he said bungled the coronavirus response, as he pointed out the toll the pandemic has taken on the tourist industry in Orlando and across Florida. He said Biden would be able to put a plan in place that will make more testing available and get vaccines distributed.

Obama also appealed to Floridians to vote to save their healthcare, reminding them that Florida has the highest enrollment of the Affordable Care Act of any state in America.

He also contrasted Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s character and experience with Trump’s. “We cannot have this kind of incompetence and disinterest,” he told the crowd. “We have a president who lies multiple times a day.”

Florida’s Top Elected Democrat: Three Out of Four Republicans Are Voting for Biden

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 11:45 a.m.

Republican voters in Florida are breaking ranks with President Donald Trump at the polls, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried suggested to MSNBC on Monday. Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, is considered a must-win swing state for Trump.

“A Republican ballot doesn’t mean that they’re voting for Trump,” said the state’s top elected Democrat. “About every three out of four Republican voters that I’ve spoken to and NPAs are voting for Joe Biden.”

According to Fried, those abandoning the GOP ship are Florida’s senior conservative-leaning voters.

“These individuals haven’t seen their children, their grandchildren,” Fried said. “They have to deal with COVID every single day of their lives and don’t have leadership that is taking their health and their safety as a priority.”

RELATED: Here’s Everything Florida Voters Need to Know About Voting by Mail

During Florida’s in-person early voting period, Democrats had taken a healthy lead over Republicans in vote-by-mail ballots. However, although Democrats remain ahead by more than 354,000 votes cast, as of Monday Republicans picked up the slack, leading Democrats in early voting by more than 254,000 votes.

Freid added that despite the increase in the number of Republicans voting early, Democrats “still have a very large vote gain here in the state and I imagine that will continue to increase as we get into Election Day.”  

Early voting ends Nov. 1 in Florida.

Obama to Campaign in Orlando on Tuesday

Monday, Oct. 26, 11:45 a.m.

Former President Barack Obama will be in Orlando on Tuesday to campaign for Joe Biden. Florida is a key battleground state that Trump needs to win to remain in the White House.

The details of where and when Obama would appear were not immediately released.

During Saturday’s rally in Miami, Obama directed parts of his speech to Cuban and Puerto Rican voters, first recalling Trump’s ineffective response to the devastation caused by hurricane Maria in 2017, the effects of which are still felt today by those on the island.

“When a hurricane devastates Puerto Rico, a president is supposed to help it rebuild, not toss paper towels and withhold billions of dollars in aid until just before an election,” Obama said. 

Then, in a bid to rally Cuban American exiles who recall Fidel Castro and his Communist dictatorship’s intolerance of dissenters, Obama reminded voters of Trump’s calls for “locking up” opponents.

RELATED: Joe Biden Generating Plan Focused on Puerto Rico’s Economic Development

“We will not have a [president] who threatens people with jail for just criticizing him,” Obama said. “That is not normal behavior, Florida… Why are we accepting it from the president?”, he said. 

Biden Returns to Broward

Monday, Oct. 26, 11:35 a.m.

Joe Biden plans to campaign on Thursday, five days before election day, in Broward County, which has the largest number of Democratic voters in Florida.  The visit comes five days before Election Day And although he is expected to win the county, he needs to get as high a margin as possible over President Donald Trump to win the state.

Biden was last in Broward on Oct. 13, where he held two events, one aimed at senior voters and another for the county’s Black community. 

Pence Will Campaign Despite “Close Contact” with Covid-19 Positive Staffers

Monday, Oct. 26, 11:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and “a couple of key staff surrounding the Vice President,” have tested positive for COVID-19, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday.

The Vice President, along with his wife, Karen, tested negative on Sunday. But under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, Pence is considered a “close contact” of the aides. However, he will not quarantine, his spokesman Devin O’Malley said, adding that Pence plans to maintain his campaign schedule this week.

According to Florida Politics, Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent” and “an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response.”

She also said it is “really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally. He needs to be staying home 14 days. Campaign events are not essential,” she said.

Thousands of Florida Mail-In Ballots Rejected. Here’s How to Fix It.

Friday, Oct. 23, 11:40 a.m.

Thousands of mail-in ballots sent in by Florida residents have been initially rejected for signature errors and other mistakes. But there is time to fix the problem and make your vote count, as the deadline has been extended by the Legislature to Nov. 5, two days after Election Day, by 5:00 p.m. 

Here’s How to Make Your Vote Count

  • If notified of the error by mail or email, a copy of the affidavit you need to print and fill out will be included.
  • If notified by phone, go online to your county elections office website to find the affidavit, Form DS-DE 139 (English PDF / Español PDF). You can also check the status of your ballot at those sites.
  • After filling out the affidavit, make a copy of a photo ID (a Florida driver license, a military, student, retirement center, neighborhood association, public assistance ID, or veteran health ID card, among others. Don’t have any of those? You can use a current utility bill, bank statement, or government check or document.
  • According to the Florida Department of State Division of Elections, the documentation can be returned by mail, email, fax, or in person. The deadline to submit the form and the ID is no later than 5 p.m. (local time) on the 2nd day after an election. Failure to follow the instructions may cause the ballot not to be counted.
  • If your ballot is rejected because it arrived too late (after 7 p.m. on Election Day), it will not count. But if it’s less than four days before Election Day, you may go to any open early voting site or county elections office to deliver your mail-in ballot to a drop-box.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know to Vote in Florida

Floridians Vote for Clarity on the Issues

Thursday, Oct. 22, 10:40 a.m.

Less than two weeks before Election Day, Florida voters spoke to The Americano to express what they want to hear from presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden during the second and final debate, happening tonight.

The debate will air live on major and cable networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and CNN at 9 p.m. ET.

“I want them to explain their platforms in a straightforward manner, without interruptions or going off on a tangent,” says Nahyr Acosta, a Miami-Dade resident from Puerto Rico. “What is their COVID-19 action plan? What is their plan for Puerto Rico? I’d also like to know what they are going to do about Cuba and Venezuela.”

RELATED: Trump and Biden Face Off in Final Debate—and Mics Will Be Muted

“What are they planning to do about the economy, climate change, and the high cost of medications? I’m also interested to hear about immigration and racial equality,” says Talia Pizango, a Peruvian living in Miami-Dade.

Peruvian American Antony Sarnataro wants to know when can Americans expect a safe COVID-19 vaccine, as well as “the candidates’ plans to rebuild the economy.”

Concerned about her pre-teen daughter’s education, Giselle Salas, a Cuban American mother from Hialeah, says she hopes to hear candidates talk about “access to a good education for all.” 

Rolando Santos, a Cuban American from Miami, is not concerned about specific topics, but rather about the fairness of the election in general, “seeing how Trump is creating confusion.” 

And confusion seems to feature prominently in Trump’s agenda for tonight. The president, who accused first debate host Chris Wallace of Fox News of teaming up with Biden, and said last Thursday’s town hall moderator Savannah Guthrie was “totally out of line,” also lashed out at  Kristen Welker, the host of tonight’s debate. During a call to Fox & Friends (Fox News) Trump called her “terrible,”“totally partisan,” and predicted that she “cannot be neutral at all.”

Early Voting Goes Smoothly, No Problems Reported

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 12:40 p.m.

Floridians began early voting in much of the state Monday with no serious problems reported.

Wait times of 15 minutes or less were reported by the most populous counties, although a few sites reported waits of up to 90 minutes, and one Palm Beach County site reported a three-hour wait.

Okaloosa County had to close an early voting site after the elections supervisor and an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The decision to close the office was made “out of an abundance of caution and concern for public safety,” a news release said.  Another county had its website go down. No other significant issues were reported by counties or voting rights groups.

RELATED: 54% of Latinos Have an Early Voting Plan, New Poll Shows

Trump Optimistic, Despite Polls

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 12:36 p.m.

“We are going to win. I wouldn’t have said that three weeks ago, two weeks ago.”

That’s what President Trump told his campaign staff on a call Monday, according to The Washington Post.

The paper’s polling team, who keep track of  high quality polls nationally and in swing states, report that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Trump by 11 percentage points nationally and has a lead in key states that Trump won in 2016: eight points in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan; seven in Arizona; and six in Florida. 

READ MORE: Trump to DeSantis: You’re Fired if I Lose Florida

Early Voting Starts Today

Monday, Oct. 19, 11:16 a.m.

Florida voters can now cast votes for president, county offices, congressional and representative races, municipal seats and initiatives.

Early voting in Florida continues through Sunday, Nov. 1 ahead of the Nov. 3 2020 General Election. Registered voters can vote at any early election site within their county. They must show a valid photo ID with signature.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know to Vote in Florida

There are 22 early polling locations in Broward County, 33 in Miami-Dade County, and 5 in Monroe County. 

The two week window runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 1 in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Monroe County’s early voting time frame is 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19 to Saturday, Oct. 31.

Voters’ filled-out and signed mail-in ballots can also be dropped off at early voting locations—while they are open—via secure drop boxes.

Check here for early voting wait times: https://www.miamidade.gov/elections/earlyvoting/wait-times.asp

Blue Tsunami for Biden in Miami

Monday, Oct. 19, 9:42 a.m.

Enthusiastic Cuban and Haitian supporters of Joe Biden gathered at a ‘Blue Tsunami’ caravan at Doral Central Park in Florida. Parking their cars together, the crowd displayed Biden-Harris flags to show their support for the Democratic nominees for president and vice president. 


Biden sticks to policy as he clarifies his positions

Friday, Oct. 16, 12:02 p.m.

During Thursday’s town hall, the Democratic candidate answered voters’ questions and took the opportunity to define three key positions that have come under question during his campaign. 

1. Biden promised to give voters his “clear position” on court packing before Election Day

When asked about “court packing,”, Biden said that although he hasn’t always been a fan of adding justices to the Supreme Court, he may change his mind depending on how the Senate handles Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

“It depends on how much they rush this,” Biden said, adding that while Trump’s administration has “no time” to deal with people not being able to pay their mortgage, not being able to put food on the table, not being able to keep their business open, not being able to do anything to deal with what’s going on in terms of the economy as a consequence of COVID, “they have time to rush this [confirmation] through.”

2. Reaffirmed that defunding the police is not a solution

Biden said “defunding the police,” which liberal activists and some Democrats have called for, is not the solution. Instead he calls for arming the police with the right tools to respond in moments of crisis, such as when someone is under mental stress: psychologists and social workers who can better respond to situations that cops may not be equipped to handle. The former vice president called for a “national study group” of police officers, social workers and Black and Brown Americans to come up with reforms together.

3. Clarified his position on fracking

Biden said that despite the president repeatedly claiming that he would ban fracking, a key industry in Pennsylvania, this is not something he’s proposed. He also said the country needs to invest in renewable energy, “the fastest-growing employer in the energy industry,” adding that 128,000 people could be hired to fill oil wells.

RELATED: From Jobs to Health Care, Here’s Where Biden and Trump Stand on Six Key Issues

Bloomberg and Latino Victory Fund Join Forces to Defeat Trump

Friday, Oct. 15, 12:10 p.m.

In an effort to defeat President Donald Trump in his bid for reelection, Latino Victory Fund and billionaire Mike Bloomberg are launching a $2.4 million digital ad campaign.

Latino Victory Fund will use the funds for English and Spanish ads “that will route voters to votaflorida.com,” according to Politico. Their goal is to rouse Florida Latinos to go to the polls in the key battleground state, as “voter turnout among Latinos in Florida could mean the difference for a Biden-Harris win in Florida,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Trump and Biden compete for TV viewers in dueling town halls, both scheduled at 8 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2:12 p.m.

Trump and Biden were supposed to debate Thursday in Miami. But after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the debate would be held virtually due to the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump refused the opportunity to debate, claiming he would not “waste” his time.

Due to the president’s refusal, instead of having the opportunity to see the two candidates discuss key issues together, viewers will have to choose one or the other.

NBC announced the president’s one-hour event, during which he will take questions from Floridians in the audience, will be held at 8 p.m. on the Pérez Art Museum Miami. It will also air across MSNBC and CNBC, and will be streamed in Spanish on Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Biden’s scheduled town hall for that same evening in Philadelphia, will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on ABC. Voters will be allowed to ask questions to the former vice president. Biden’s town hall will be held in accordance with state and local government health and safety regulations, as well as guidelines established by health officials. 

Race for Miami Dade Heats Up as Trump Wedges Himself in Midst of Non-Partisan Contest

Wednesday, Oct. 14,  11:55 a.m.

Although it is against the law to place an “R” for Republican or a “D” for Democrat next to the candidate’s name in nonpartisan races for county offices, President Donald Trump has openly signaled his support for Cuban American Esteban “Steve” Bovo. The Republican candidate is running against Democrat Daniella Levine Cava for mayor of Miami-Dade County, a nonpartisan race that will decide who succeeds Mayor Carlos Giménez.

In a nod to Trump’s base in the populous Florida county —according to a recent poll of 500 likely voters by Bendixen and Amandi International, 73% of Cuban Americans had a favorable opinion of President Donald Trump—a photo of the president warmly greeting the Republican candidate at Miami International Airport on Jan. 23 was prominently featured on a mailer sent this summer to potential voters. 

Levine Cava, for her part, used the photo opportunity to hoist Bovo with his own petard and rouse Democrats in the county by using the same image of Trump shaking Bovo’s hand in her campaign mailer with the phrase: “Bovo and his friend Donald Trump.”

The move by both candidates makes this nonpartisan race one in which party affiliation plays prominently. More than 1 million people are expected to vote in November, including hundreds of thousands without party affiliation.