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Politics Puerto Rican vote becomes essential as early voting begins in Florida

06:40  20 october  2020
06:40  20 october  2020 Source:   abcnews.go.com

The 19th Explains: Everything you need to know about voting and Election Day 2020

  The 19th Explains: Everything you need to know about voting and Election Day 2020 Experts and state officials say to prepare for the reality that the country may not know who won the presidency on Election Day — or for several days (or weeks) after.Long lines due to expected record voter turnout amid a global pandemic. Ongoing concerns about online misinformation. Hundreds of lawsuits over voting. Poll workers facing changing election rules. An incumbent president who won’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power.

Early voting is required in any election that contains a state or federal office race. The early voting period must start at least on the 10th day before the election and end on The Supervisor of Elections may provide early voting for elections that are not held in conjunction with a state or federal election.

Voting rights of United States citizens in Puerto Rico, like the voting rights of residents of other United States territories, differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

When Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico in a dump of economic, emotional and physical disaster in 2017, Maria Baez left with her grandson, Daniel, for Kissimmee, Florida. Now, three years later, and weeks before one of the country's most important elections, she's still fighting for a better quality of life.

a man and a woman standing on a sidewalk: Ricardo Negron is helping Puerto Ricans navigate the Democratic process with group Latino Justice. © ABC News Ricardo Negron is helping Puerto Ricans navigate the Democratic process with group Latino Justice.

"To have my grandson say, 'Grandma, I'm thirsty,' and to not have any cold water to give him, that was one of the reasons why I decided I had to leave Puerto Rico," said Baez.

Daniel, who is 8 years old and has special needs, struggles to walk on his own. So for Baez, a first-time voter, the need for better health care is what is driving her to support Joe Biden and fill out her ballot on Election Day.

Puerto Rico, unable to vote, becomes crucial to US election

  Puerto Rico, unable to vote, becomes crucial to US election SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are rallying people in a place where U.S. citizens cannot cast ballots but have the ear of hundreds of thousands of potential voters in the battleground state of Florida. The candidates are targeting Puerto Rico in a way never before seen, with the U.S. territory suddenly finding itself in the crosshairs of a high-stakes race even though Puerto Ricans on the island cannot vote in presidential elections despite being U.S. citizens since 1917. Campaigners know this, but they hope those on the island will push relatives and friends on the U.S.

Puerto Rican living in the United States are eligible to vote if they comply with the registration requirements. While living in the island we cannot As native born US citizens, all that Puerto Ricans need to do to vote in US state and federal elections is hop on a plane, go to the state of their choice

Early voting for the US election has kicked off in the battleground state of Florida - the BBC is live from Miami. A record 28 million nationwide ballots have already been cast ahead of election day on 3 November. Donald Trump hit the campaign trail hard at the weekend, and today heads to Arizona.

"I see him as a politician who wants to fight for the United States, who can provide us with both health care and personal benefits, and someone who can help us move forward and have a better quality of life," she said.

a person standing in front of a building: Maria Baez left Puerto Rico in 2017 with her grandson, Daniel, and now lives in Kissimmee, Fla. © ABC News Maria Baez left Puerto Rico in 2017 with her grandson, Daniel, and now lives in Kissimmee, Fla.

Early voting began in the Sunshine State Monday, and Hispanic voters are on track to become the largest minority voting bloc. Roughly 2.4 million Latinos registered to vote in Florida, making up a record-breaking 12% of the state's total voters, according to the Pew Research Center.

a group of people standing in a room: Voters fill out their ballots as they vote at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center polling station on Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Voters fill out their ballots as they vote at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center polling station on Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami.

But the political beliefs in the state -- even among Hispanics -- are as diverse as its Latino population.

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Florida voters are experiencing long lines as the state begins in -person voting Monday. The Sunshine State could be President Donald Trump's key to re-election if he can win it for a second time. Polling shows Trump neck and neck with Democrat Joe Biden and both campaigns are dedicating

WASHINGTON – Puerto Rico voters upset at President Donald Trump for his long-running feud with the island over disaster aid don't have much It has three electoral votes . Territories can help choose each party's nominee, however. The political parties have the ability to include them in the primary

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Margie Santos, who was born in Puerto Rico, moved from New York to Florida this year. Like Baez, she is a first-time voter.

"I am voting for Donald J. Trump. He is the best candidate for us right now. He stands for everything that we believe in as conservatives, as Christians pro-life," Santos told ABCNL. "Nobody's perfect, so we can't focus on that. We got to focus on the action, and what he's doing for our country."

a person wearing a hat: First-time voter Margie Santos said she is voting for President Trump in Florida. © ABC News First-time voter Margie Santos said she is voting for President Trump in Florida.

Santos is working with two groups, Latinos for Trump and Republican Chicas, to drive turnout to this year's presidential election.

There is a growing push to mobilize Puerto Rican voters along what is known as the 1-4 corridor, a hotly contested stretch of highway which runs from Daytona Beach to Tampa and spans across central Florida.

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Puerto Rico is preparing to vote on becoming the 51st US state , but there are several other options that the islanders can choose from in the non-binding referendum, including maintaining the status quo to becoming a full-fledged country on its own. Amid a historic bankruptcy declaration, Puerto Ricans

Puerto Ricans now number nearly 1 million statewide and represent 28 percent of Hispanic registered voters — closing in on a Cuban population of 1.3 The Puerto Rican vote could make a decisive difference in the upcoming presidential election. It may have already done so in 2012, when Obama

"It's sort of a purple area, right? So people go back and forth between Democrat and Republican," said Dr. Fernando Rivera, a professor at the University of Central Florida.

a man wearing glasses: Dr. Fernando Rivera is a professor at the University of Central Florida. © ABC News Dr. Fernando Rivera is a professor at the University of Central Florida.

Rivera has been tracking the movement of Puerto Ricans to the area for more than 10 years. Even though Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, they cannot vote in U.S. elections. That changes once they move to one of the 50 states.

Helping Puerto Ricans navigate the Democratic process are groups like Latino Justice. The group provides resources and combats misinformation.

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"So right now we have a campaign on the way, it's called, 'Pa' Luego Es Tarde,' which loosely translates to 'The Sooner The Better.' And the aim of this campaign is to reach Latino voters in Florida in Spanish, but particularly Latino voters who live in rural areas that don't necessarily get the same attention," said Ricardo Negron of Orlando's Latino Justice.

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Puerto Ricans are US citizens, and, like any US citizen, may vote in Presidential elections if resident in a US state or the District of Columbia (according to the laws of that state or district) at the time of any such election, and may vote in H

a man standing in front of a building: Ricardo Negron is helping Puerto Ricans navigate the Democratic process with group Latino Justice. © ABC News Ricardo Negron is helping Puerto Ricans navigate the Democratic process with group Latino Justice.

Negron specifically mentioned the harmful disinformation that's surrounded voting by mail this year. "We want to make sure that people down here in Florida know it has been happening for years," he said. "It's not something that has been implemented because of COVID."

Rivera said that while polling numbers are important for candidates, focusing on Latino voter turnout is what will translate into votes. "[Turnout] would be the game changer in a state where everything is so close," he said.

In the last six election cycles, no candidate has won the White House without winning Florida. In 2016, President Donald Trump won the state by just over 100,000 voters. This year, both candidates have already poured millions of dollars into Spanish language ads.

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Earlier this month, Florida was the first state Trump visited after his recovery from COVID-19. In September, his administration announced a nearly $13 billion disaster relief fund for Puerto Rico -- three years after Hurricane Maria killed at least 3,000 people.

Puerto Rican voter Thomas Ward is a restaurant owner in southeast Orlando. After being forced to close one of his restaurants and lay off 20 members of his staff due to the coronavirus, he said this election he is voting for the candidate who can control the pandemic.

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  Latino Turnout Could Decide Who Wins Pennsylvania BETHLEHEM, Pa. ― When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, John Alvarado tried to tough it out for a few years. But with the island’s economy spiraling, it became increasingly hard for Alvarado and his family to survive. His college costs went up, but neither he nor his mother could find a job to help pay for it. Then, in January, the earthquakes began, disrupting his mother’s sleep. Running out of options, Alvarado, his mother and his stepfather moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in February. Alvarado, who was politically active on the island, registered to vote shortly after moving to the mainland and is eager to cast his ballot for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

a man looking at the camera: Undecided voter Thomas Ward is a restaurant owner in Southeast Orlando, Fla. © ABC News Undecided voter Thomas Ward is a restaurant owner in Southeast Orlando, Fla.

With just 15 days until Nov. 3, Ward is still undecided. "[Trump] shoots from the hip and he creates a frenzy. And that's one of the situations that I dislike about that," he said. "But [Biden is] pushing for some situations where, for example, $15 an hour [minimum wage]. That's a really tough situation to push right now in a bad economy."

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Ward told ABC News that while the presidential election is important, in order to move forward, there needs to be leadership in Washington across the board.

"At this point, right now, what we need is just leadership as a whole, not only in the presidential situation, but in Congress and in the House to make decisions so that we can move the country forward," he said.

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