Early voters break 2 million, ballot rejection woes, and Florida puts felons in a voting trap

It’s Monday, Oct. 19 and today is the first day of in-person early voting in Florida.

If enthusiasm is as high as it has been in other states, we may be headed to a record turnout election, despite the pandemic.

Consider: As of Sunday, with just over two weeks left, more than 2 million votes had already been cast through mail-in ballots, compared to 2.7 million cast by Election Day 2016. Democrats have the early edge as more than 1.2 million Democrats had voted by mail in Florida, compared to 754,000 Republicans. Of the 2 million votes already cast, Democratic party officials say 350,000 of them are Democrats who didn’t vote in the last election.

The pressure is on Trump supporters to reverse that advantage. Republicans suggest that Democrats may have tapped out their base. Based on their data, they say, there are 471,000 more high-propensity Republican voters left to

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Some South Florida CEOs say they’re still hiring

My company will not be hiring any new employees until our country can make some definitive decisions regarding the pandemic. If a vaccine is developed and our economy resorts back to a normal state of business I can say unequivocally that we would hire new employees by the first quarter of 2021.

Dexter Bridgeman, CEO, founder, M•I•A Media Group


We have been committed to our bank team members from the onset of this horrible pandemic. In spite of lower levels of activity in some areas, we did not reduce any staffing levels. The last thing that we wanted to do was add to despair by laying anyone off, nor to put anyone on furlough. Our team members have been there for us and our clients and we are committed to being there for them. Last month we hired two new professionals and we are actively searching for two new

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‘Joe Biden has no ground game in Florida.’ Will Mike Bloomberg’s money change that?

Progressive activists backing Joe Biden in Florida say they’ve made millions of phone calls, sent hundreds of thousands of text messages and even written thousands of letters to convince voters to support the Democratic presidential nominee.

But one thing they’re largely not doing — and growing increasingly worried about — is talking to voters face-to-face.

Now, with the number of coronavirus cases down from their July peak in Florida and Election Day less than six weeks away, the state’s largest left-leaning grassroots organizations and political field operations are making a last-minute push to get back in front of voters in a crucial battleground state where President Donald Trump’s campaign has been on the ground since June.

“Joe Biden has no ground game in Florida,” Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general and Trump campaign surrogate, said Wednesday on Fox News. “We have the best ground game in the country.”


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Biden goes viral after playing ‘Despacito’ at Florida campaign stop, as he tries to win Latino voters

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who is struggling to win over Latino voters, made his first campaign appearance in Florida on Tuesday, at the opening of Hispanic Heritage Month. 

But Biden’s address at the event is likely to be remembered more for its opening music number than the content of the speech after the former vice president pulled out his phone and played “Despacito,” a Spanish-language pop song, when he first took the stage. 

After being introduced by Luis Fonsi, the singer of the international hit, Biden said,  “I just have one thing to say,” before hitting play. 

“There you go, dance a little bit, Joe. Come on,” encouraged Fonsi.

Biden bobbed to the opening of the 2017 reggaeton sensation before switching it off and placing his phone back in his pocket. 

“I’ll tell you what, if I had the talent of any one of these people, I’d be elected

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Florida Supreme Court decides Bar exam will remain a requirement for new law graduates

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday refused a request to waive a requirement that law school graduates pass the state Bar exam to practice law, saying that such a move could result in harm to the public.

Dozens of lawyers last month filed a petition with the court seeking to lift the exam requirement for law school graduates who had signed up for a test that was supposed to be conducted in person in July. A state board switched to an online test amid the coronavirus pandemic, but that test also had to be postponed because of technical problems.

The petition proposed that law school graduates who were scheduled to take the test this summer be admitted to The Florida Bar after six months of working under the supervision of a Florida attorney.

But Thursday’s Supreme Court order said “it is essential for this court to ensure that those seeking

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A Florida man who thought the coronavirus was ‘blown out of proportion’ lost his wife to it

People wearing masks in Del Mar, California. 

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People wearing masks in Del Mar, California.
  • A man who once believed the coronavirus was a hoax has lost his wife to COVID-19.

  • BBC News previously wrote about Brian Lee Hitchens, a man in Florida who told the outlet he fell ill along with his wife, Erin, in May after ignoring social-distancing guidelines. He said they believed conspiracy theories and rumors on social media downplaying the coronavirus.

  • While Brian Lee Hitchens was able to recover, his wife died this month, BBC News reported Tuesday.

  • “She’s no longer suffering, but in peace,” Hitchens said. “I go through times missing her, but I know she’s in a better place.”

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Florida man who once said the coronavirus pandemic was “blown out of proportion” has lost his wife to COVID-19.

Brian Lee Hitchens, a ride-sharing driver, told BBC News that

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Florida men are snagged in Steve Bannon’s build-the-wall scandal. Feds call it a fraud.

Conservative political strategist Stephen K. Bannon, the architect of President Donald Trump’s victorious 2016 campaign, was arrested Thursday on a mega-yacht and charged with plundering a fund set up to privately finance construction of Trump’s border wall. Three others were arrested elsewhere.

In large part, it is a made-in-Florida scandal. Two Florida businessmen — one of them with a history of bankruptcies and liens — were among the four rounded up by the feds. Those two had first appearances in separate Florida courtrooms later in the day. The company used to run the fundraising effort was registered in Florida

An unsealed indictment announced by the Justice Department accused Bannon and three others of fleecing hundreds of thousands of donors in an online crowdfunding campaign called “We Build the Wall” that raised more than $25 million and was promoted by Donald Trump Jr.

Bannon and associates had assured donors that they

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New petition asks Florida Supreme Court to make Bar applicants lawyers without taking exam

Lawyers filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday asking that law students who could not take the recently canceled August Florida Bar exam be allowed to practice law immediately.

More than 100 attorneys signed on to the petition proposing an emergency rule that would allow those who signed up for the exam to become licensed attorneys after a period of supervised practice, without needing to take the test.

“We deserve better,” said Bianca Maria Baez, a recent Florida State University College of Law graduate who helped prepare the petition. “All we wanted was a fair and safe exam and it seems we are being punished for speaking up and demanding exactly that.”

Baez, 35, was a lawyer in the Dominican Republic before applying for the Bar in Florida. She studied around the clock for this month’s exam, waking up each day at 7 a.m. and reviewing until

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LA cracks down on ‘nightclub’ house; Las Vegas casinos could be inflaming COVID spread; Florida marks 10K deaths

As COVID-19 outbreaks at schools continue to pop up causing students and staff in some states to quarantine, a new study suggests that children may play a larger role in community spread of the new virus than previously thought.

Researchers in Massachusetts found that some children who tested positive for COVID-19 had significantly higher levels of virus in their airways than hospitalized adults in intensive care units, according to the study published Thursday.

“Kids are not immune from this infection, and their symptoms don’t correlate with exposure and infection,” said Dr. Alessio Fasano, the study’s senior author.

Meanwhile, two days after the University of North Carolina announced it would pivot to online classes, university officials announced Wednesday that it would temporarily suspend all athletic activities until Thursday afternoon. The announcement comes after the athletics department said campus’ outbreak would not affect the football season.

Some significant developments:

  • Georgia Gov. Brian

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Voters can add fresh new voices to the Florida House. Here are the Herald’s choices| Editorial

From North Miami to Kendall to Key Biscayne and down the Florida Keys, Miami-Dade and Monroe county residents on Tuesday will select their voices in Tallahassee by voting for representative in the Florida House. Some races will be decided on Tuesday; others in November.

Here are our recommendations for the Aug. 18 primary:


Voters in this North Miami-Dade District, which spills into Broward — have three abundantly qualified and accomplished candidates from which to choose. (A meeting time could not be scheduled A fourth candidate, Dennis Hinds, did not respond to the Editorial Board’s invitation for an interview.)


Felicia Robinson is a former two-term Miami Gardens City Council member, elected in 2010. During her tenure, she made government more accessible to her constituents, creating several health-education programs and another worthwhile community conversation called “Meet Me Monday.” “I would bring in different people from the community and from

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