Throngs of South Florida voters hit the polls on the second to last day of early voting Friday, waiting in line an hour or longer to cast their ballots.
"We are all important," said Ver Roman, a new American citizen from Belgium. "One vote may tip the scale."
With Friday and Saturday the final two remaining days for those wanting to vote early, more than 3.4 million Floridians have already cast their ballot, state elections officials said.
Throughout the day Friday in Miami-Dade County, the wait times at some early voting locations were estimated as high as three hours. At 1 p.m. Friday, the location with the longest estimated wait time in Broward County was the Hollywood Branch Library, estimated at two hours, election officials said.
Standing in line for hours was worth the wait, said Patrick Campbell, a voter at Miramar Branch Library. “People died so we can vote,” he said. “So what is an hour? Two hours?”
Karen Bryant wanted to be among the first in line to vote at the Miramar library, so she showed up in the predawn hours. She secured the second spot in a line that wrapped around the property. Still, when it was Bryant’s turn to vote after waiting nearly two hours, it went smoothly, Bryant said.
More Democrats (86,848) had taken advantage of the early voting in Florida while more Republicans (80,021) returned absentee ballots though Thursday. There were 595,661 non-affiliated voters in addition to 1,293,223 Democrats and 1,472,278 Republicans who have voted in the Sunshine State.
The past few days have drawn some voter complaints. Warren Fox said he and his wife wanted to vote by absentee ballot. His wife received her ballot, but he still was waiting for his after twice requesting it, he said.
"This is her ballot [that] already came in," Fox said. "And she's already voted."
In Broward County, the number of voters in the first six days of early voting for this year's Nov. 6 general election was 174,337. That's more than double the number of voters when compared to the first six days of early voting in the 2008 presidential election, officials said.
In Miami-Dade County, the first six days of early voting drew nearly 162,000 voters this year, according to the elections office. The same early voting period in 2008 had a total of 95,747.
Saturday may draw the largest turnout during an early voting day, officials said.
"Historically, a lot of people come out the last day of early voting, more than any other day of early voting," said Evelyn Perez-Verdia, a spokeswoman for the Broward Supervisor of Elections. "We expect we're going to receive more and more people."
Early voting locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Despite record turnout in many parts of the state, Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected calls Thursday to extend early voting through Sunday to help alleviate long lines at the polls.
In Miramar on Friday, voter Roberto Montoya said: “Nothing you can really do. You want to vote, you’ve got to wait in line.”
Supervisor of Elections offices in Broward and Miami-Dade counties recommend checking wait time estimates on their websites: