Speaking of Voting

Downtown Polling Place

On Election Day, November 6, downtown residents no longer have to commute to Brickell to vote. They can cast their vote in the historic Alfred I. Dupont Building, 169 East Flagler Street. Miami, FL. 33131

“A historic and breathtaking landmark in Miami for over three-quarters of a century, the Alfred I. Dupont Building reflects the culture and designs of past eras. The Art Deco style of the late 1920s to 1930s is prevalent throughout, from the granite and limestone aesthetics of the exterior to the delicately painted cypress ceiling and marble paneling of the interior,” from the Official Dupont Building Brochure. Photo by Niels Johansen.

For early voting, you can walk or take the Metromover to the Government Center in the Stephen Clark Building, but, until earlier this year, to vote on Election Day downtown residents needed to commute to Brickell.

How Did that Change?

“It all started from a conversation I had with Eileen Higgins. The current County Commissioner for District 5 pointed out that Downtown Miami had no polling place on Election Day,” said Gary Ressler, who is Principal at Tilia Companies (including the Dupont Building) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Development Authority. At first, he recalls, he thought Eileen Higgins was mistaken, but after some research, he learned the problem was bigger than he could have anticipated.

Specifically, he enumerated: “1. Central Business District (CBD) residents had to commute and vote in Brickell. 2. Brickell Residents had to commute and vote in Jose Marti Park or Mercy Hospital. 3. Brickell Key residents had to commute and vote by Mercy, as well. Frankly, it seemed to me like a strange coincidence, if not an all-out voter-suppression tactic, plain-and-simple.”

¿Possible Reasons? “Downtown has, until recently, lacked any resident voice in City and County Government. Making it easier for downtowners to vote can only benefit the collective voice looking to improve our City and County.”

Further discussions led to the Downtown Development Authority’s involvement. They coordinated with the County Elections Office to secure both the Alfred I. Dupont Building in the Central Business District and the First Presbyterian Church in Brickell as Election Day polling places.

The rest, well, is history waiting to happen. The hardware is there for Downtowners to participate in the democratic process. What downtowners need to do now is provide the software, that is, vote. Then, if a self-congratulatory token is in order, steps away on Flagler Street is LOST BOY to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail or cold beer. Salud to democracy!

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