The line wrapped around the parking lot and the weather was hot, but Joanne Calderon said she didn't mind. "My gosh, it s a privilege," she said. Meantime, Nuria Cid and Lillian Cabrera said it took them about four hours to vote. At Coral Pine Park in Pinecrest, Dolores Mastrangelo came prepared with a chair, candy, water and magazines. But in Hialeah, Paul Onate said election officials were not organized. Richmond Heights Middle School was empty Tuesday afternoon. Theolia Carter said that was because many residents heeded the call for early voting.
People in various South Florida precincts stood in lines to vote late Tuesday night, as NBC News projected that President Barack Obama won a second term.
The Miami-Dade Elections Department reported some precincts had remained open near midnight, about five hours after polls were supposed to close.
One busy nighttime polling site was Miami Fire Station No. 4, where voters were in line outside the station just before 11 p.m. and were handed pizza by firefighters. Those allowed to wait in line after hours were voters who arrived at polling sites by the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time.
Just before 11 p.m., 10 percent of the precincts remained open in Miami-Dade, according to the Miami Herald. Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley said she didn’t expect final totals until Wednesday afternoon, the newspaper said.
About 10:30 p.m., poll workers in west Kendall, also known as the Hammocks, estimated an hour wait before all voters in line cast their votes, NBC News reported. Similar reports were coming in from the neighborhood of Country Walk.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he expected the reading of absentee ballots in Miami-Dade to go into the night and even into Wednesday morning. He said continuous shifts of poll workers were at work in the county.
Mary Cooney, spokeswoman for Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections Office, said she was aware of precincts closing not long after 7 p.m. But other polling sites had remained in operation after hours, she said.
At a polling site in Sweetwater, more than 200 voters stood still in line past the 7 p.m. closing time. They were served pizza and cafecito.
Samantha Mills, a third-grader at Margate Elementary, added that her family stuck with Tuesday’s theme of democracy in action when it came to food.
"We voted for our snack,” Mills said. “It was either popcorn or potato chips. I picked popcorn and popcorn won.”
Cooney said she was surprised at how long the lines were Tuesday. “We expected [long lines during] early voting, but this is kind of pleasant,” Cooney said.
On one hand, the long lines have been bad news for those in a hurry to vote, Cooney said. On the other hand, it was good news that people were exercising their right to vote. “It’s going well,” she said.
Before the polls opened at 7 a.m., some in line at Miami-Dade Elections Department's headquarters in Doral said they were motivated to show up early after seeing long lines there the past couple days.
"I was paranoid," said Carlos Almeida, 19, who was first in line before his polling site opened Tuesday. Almeida, who is voting in his first election, said he set his alarm for 5 a.m. but couldn't sleep and was in line by 3:30 a.m.
At 1:23 p.m. Tuesday, Sabal Pines Park in Coconut Creek had very few voters, but across the street at Winston Park Elementary, the wait estimate was three hours. People brought lawn chairs, and some people had lunch delivered to them in line.