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Candidates mobilize for early voting

Erick Johnson | 8/14/2014, 9 a.m.
They were fired up and ready to vote. That was the slogan candidates and community leaders used Monday to mobilize ...
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (Center) helped lead a rally in Overtown to increase Black voter turnout at the polls on the first day of the early voting period. Photo by Erick Johnson

They were fired up and ready to vote.

That was the slogan candidates and community leaders used Monday to mobilize voters to the polls as early voting began for various offices throughout the county, state and federal government.

Monday was the first of 14 days of early voting, the result of a new effort by state lawmakers to allow election officials more flexibility in hours and operations. The early voting period culminates with the election day primaries on Aug. 26.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of 2010 when Gov. Rick Scott was elected to lead the state amid low voter turnout among Blacks, political leaders urged voters to make their choices known at a rally at the

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District 3 Commissioner Audrey Edmonson (center) led voters on a march from Overtown to an early voting site at Government Center downtown on Monday

International Longshoreman’s Association in Overtown, across from the Historic Lyric Theater.

The rally brought out political and judicial candidates seeking one last opportunity among some 50 demonstrators to campaign for positions as voters make their final decisions at various early voting sites throughout the county.

But the most important message was getting Blacks to the polls. With very few heated races, political leaders are concerned about Black voter apathy during the elections. They urged voters to consider the Gubernatorial race as Democratic candidate Charlie Crist faces his opponent, Nann Rich in the primaries. The winner will face incumbent Scott in the November elections. Many believe Crist is the stronger candidate who can defeat Scott.

“This is an election we must win,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who’s up for re-election. “Don’t think that because (President) Obama is not on the ballot, this is not a serious election.”

“What we’re doing is letting people know that they have to vote,” said District 3 Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson. “We as a community must get out and vote.”

“This election is about good jobs, economic opportunities, families and our future,” said District 2 Commissioner Jean Monestime, who’s also seeking re-election. “That’s exactly why we need to turn out and vote.”

After the rally, about 25 voters marched to an early voting site at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami. During the nearly mile-long walk, voters shouted, “Fired up, ready to vote,” before casting their ballots.

At the Joseph Caleb Center in Liberty City, political campaign supporters flooded the parking lot trying to persuade voters to pick their candidate. Throughout the day, the candidates stopped by the center to find out how well their supporters were putting out their campaign message.

At the rally in Overtown, Crist’s running mate, Annette Taddeo, reminded voters of Scott’s leadership at a time when the number of Bright Future scholarships have been reduced for talented Black college-bound students.

“Everything starts with education,” Taddeo said. “Right now, we have a pathway to jail, but how about a pathway to a better future?”