Miami-Dade Voters Take Advantage of Absentee, Early Voting

Primary day running smoothly in Miami-Dade

Voting was going relatively smooth in Miami-Dade Tuesday, as registered Republicans hit the polls for the GOP primary.

County voters were really taking advantage of early voting and mailing in their ballots, officials said.

"With every election it seems that more and more people are taking advantage of absentee and early voting and we believe it's the convenience factor," Miami-Dade County Elections Department Deputy Supervisor Christina White.

It was in and out at Miami-Dade polling locations, where some 367,000 registered Republicans are on the rolls. Nearly 24,000 had cast their ballots at early voting locations, while another 69,000 mailed in their selections, White said.

The elections department said more voters were casting ballots in this election than in the last similar Republican only primary back in 2004.

Voters leaving Miami-Dade polls made their priorities for the candidates clear: more jobs, a better economy and fixing the housing market.

"This craziness with the debt we've incurred is insane, actually," voter Michael Patty said, adding he's voting "primarily to keep the values of what America stands for."

"I think the country is really concerned and we need a new direction," Janelle Patty said.

Political experts agreed with voters on the issues candidates must address.

"The economy is always a perennially important issue, especially now, when the economy is sluggish, unemployment is relatively high," University of Miami political expert George Gonzalez said.

The biggest surprise Tuesday in Miami-Dade was the ballots themselves. In addition to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, voters could still cast their ballots for candidates who have already pulled out of the race, including Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain.

"We would receive official notification from the state of Florida that these people are no longer on the ballot, we have not received that notification and therefore they remain on the ballot and those ballots will be cast," White said.

Polls close at 7 p.m. in Miami-Dade.

For fully primary coverage, click on NBC Miami's Election 2012 page.

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