The Latest: Voter pepper-sprayed in Florida poll dispute

Decision 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Latest on Election Day as voters head to the polls in Florida (all times local):

11 p.m.

Republican Donald Trump, a part-time resident of Florida, has won the key battleground state following an intense campaign.

Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and is now in line to receive Florida’s 29 votes in the electoral college.

Both Trump and Clinton pegged their campaign fortunes to the state. Clinton and Trump and their allies spent in excess of $120 million dollars in advertising in the lead-up to Election Day, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker.

They repeatedly made campaign swings through the state to boost turnout.

Trump won the state even though some had predicted he encounter a backlash among some Hispanic voters. Some Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio did not campaign with him.

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10:45 p.m.

Democrat Stephanie Murphy thanked supporters after defeating 12-term Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica and said she’d work to end deadlock and dysfunction in Congress.

Murphy spoke Tuesday at an Irish pub in Maitland after defeating Mica with about 51 percent of the vote for the District 7 seat in the Orlando area.

Murphy said voters want change, security and equality. She promised to fight in Congress for women’s rights, veterans and what she called common-sense gun safety measures.

Mica had easily won his previous elections, but this year his district wasn’t as Republican-friendly after the Florida Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw congressional maps to comply with the state constitution.

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10:00 p.m.

Florida Republicans are going to remain in charge of the state Legislature.

After a tight election that saw Democrats claim several victories up and down the ballot, Republicans still maintained their majorities in both the state House and state Senate.

The victories ensure State Sen. Joe Negron will be the next Senate president and Rep. Richard Corcoran will be the next House speaker.

Republicans have controlled the Florida Legislature for the last 20 years.

Voters in 2010 approved new standards for drawing legislative districts. But this is the first election where those standards were fully implemented and all 160 legislative seats were on the ballot this year.

The changes gave Democrats an opportunity to shrink the gap between the two parties, but it wasn’t enough to give them a majority.

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9:05 p.m.

Political newcomer Stephanie Murphy will replace 12-term Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica in Washington, taking advantage of a newly drawn district and riding a backlash against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to victory.

Murphy was helped in Tuesday’s election by several million dollars pumped into the race by Democratic groups who spotted an opportunity to knock off an incumbent in a year where Trump’s comments about women and minorities hurt other Republicans on the ballot.

Murphy tied Mica to Trump in television ads, and also criticized him for taking money from the National Rifle Association just days after a gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Mica had easily won his previous 12 elections, but this year his district wasn’t as Republican-friendly after the Florida Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw congressional maps to comply with the state constitution.

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8:55 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, one of the sharpest Republican critics of nominee Donald Trump, has been re-elected.

Curbelo edged out Democrat Joe Garcia in one of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts.

Curbelo was able to hold onto the seat even though the boundaries of the district were altered late last year to make it much more Democratic. Curbelo has called for immigration reform and said he believes in climate change.

The 26th Congressional District covers Miami’s western and southern suburbs, the Florida Keys and a large chunk of the Everglades.

Curbelo, a former school board member who defeated Garcia in 2014 to win the seat, never endorsed Trump. He once publicly speculated that Trump was a phantom candidate intended to help the Democrats.

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8:55 p.m.

An Army veteran who lost both his legs while trying to dismantle a bomb in Afghanistan has won one of Florida’s most bitter congressional races.

Republican Brian Mast on Tuesday defeated Democratic businessman Randy Perkins, who pumped about $6 million of his money into the race to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Murphy left the seat to face Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Mast made his military service a focal point of his campaign. He is a former bomb technician who dismantled improvised explosive devices.

Republicans cast Perkins as a shady businessman who profits off of others’ misfortune. Perkins runs a debris removal company that did cleanup work after disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

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8:50 p.m.

Florida voters have rejected a utility-funded ballot measure that would have opened the door for changes to the system of credit earned by homeowners who install solar panels and produce surplus energy.

Currently, solar owners who send extra power back into the energy grid earn credit that can offset the price of any energy they might use, in what is known as “net metering.” Such homeowners might produce all of their own power – and then some – during sunny periods.

They might draw electricity during cloudy periods but will have no net cost if it was offset by power they previously had made available to other users.

Utility companies argue that solar homeowners unfairly take advantage of infrastructure costs paid by other customers, and Amendment 1 would have allowed them to make changes to the state’s net metering system.

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8:40 p.m.

Former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is reviving his political career as a Democrat and will serve in Congress after beating Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly.

Crist’s victory Tuesday in the St. Petersburg-area seat comes after he lost the 2010 U.S. Senate race as an independent and the 2014 governor’s race as a Democrat.

Crist decided to run for the U.S. House after the state Supreme Court ordered Florida lawmakers to redraw congressional districts. The new district became more heavily Democratic, making it more difficult for Jolly to retain his seat.

Crist was one of the state’s most successful politicians until he ran for Senate instead of seeking a second term as governor. Marco Rubio chased him from the GOP primary and Crist’s independent bid failed. Crist changed parties after the election.

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8:40 p.m.

U.S. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the state’s longest serving member in Congress, has been re-elected to another term.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, defeated Democrat Scott Fuhrman in the race for a district that covers a part of Miami-Dade County, including Coral Gables and Miami Beach.

The 64-year-old Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Cuba and moved to the U.S. when she was a young girl, was first elected to Congress in 1989. She has been critical of President Barack Obama’s push to re-establish diplomatic ties to Cuba.

The 27th Congressional District was reconfigured as part of an overhaul ordered last year by the Florida Supreme Court and became more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Obama carried the district in 2012.

Ros-Lehtinen, however, never endorsed or supported GOP nominee Donald Trump.

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8:30 p.m.

Florida voters have approved a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, which will broaden access to pot beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved by the legislature two years ago.

Currently, the law allows non-smoked, low-THC pot for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms. The ballot measure broadens access for diseases with symptoms other than seizures or spasms.

The measure lists 10 illnesses: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It also allows doctors to prescribe pot for any other similar kind of ailment.

A similar ballot measure narrowly failed in 2014, when opponents expressed concerns including that children wouldn’t be adequately protected. Proponents said loopholes were closed this time, including parental consent for underage patients.

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8:10 p.m.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will return to Washington for a second term, emerging victorious from a campaign he jumped into at the last minute after he shut down his presidential campaign.

Rubio defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Tuesday’s election in a race that was seen as critical for Republicans if they were to maintain their Senate majority.

Rubio’s decision to seek re-election boosted the GOP’s chance of keeping the seat, and outside groups pumped millions of dollars into the race to help ensure Rubio’s victory.

Rubio repeatedly said he wouldn’t seek a second term after he dropped out of the presidential race when Donald Trump soundly beat him in Florida’s primary. But Rubio changed his mind two days before the deadline to get on the ballot.

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5:23 p.m.

Darren Windroff, 40-year-old entrepreneur in the Orlando area, says he floats somewhere between being conservative and in the middle.

In the past he has voted for Al Gore, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. After eight years of President Barack Obama, he may have wanted to vote Republican this time around but couldn’t bring himself to support Donald Trump.

So Windroff cast his vote Tuesday for Hillary Clinton.

“I feel strongly about it,” Windroff said. “It’s been a challenging voting process and I’ve been really disappointed in it. I would say I’m a conservative or in the middle. But I would say I’m disappointed the Republicans don’t have a better candidate. I feel the party is terribly organized and it’s a shame.”

Windroff also says he believes Clinton has the background and experience to be a successful President.

“There are some things I don’t like about her, as well. I think she cuts the rules sometimes and I think she is very scripted but I can understand why she is,” he said.

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4:08 p.m.

Authorities say a woman campaigning for Donald Trump outside a South Florida polling place pepper-sprayed a Hillary Clinton voter during a confrontation.

Jupiter police Sgt. Bradley Vince says officers responded to the center Tuesday morning following multiple 911 calls. Police say 52-year-old Tom Garrecht and 58-year-old Donna Tatlici had exchanged words as Garrecht went in to vote, and the argument continued as he left.

Statements from Garrecht, Tatlici and witnesses conflicted. Tatlici says she sprayed Garrecht because she was afraid of him. At some point, the woman was knocked to the ground, but it wasn’t clear if Garrecht was purposefully attacking her or flailing around after being pepper-sprayed.

The state attorney’s office will decide whether file assault charges against Garrecht. No arrests were made Tuesday. Both people were treated at the scene.

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1:30 p.m.

In Miami Lakes, 37-year-old Axel Ortiz says he woke up undecided on who to vote for in the presidential election.

But on Tuesday morning, Ortiz says he cast a vote for Republican Donald Trump. He says that while he doesn’t like much of what Trump says, he can’t trust Democrat Hillary Clinton either.

Uncertainly was also an issue for 63-year-old Jack Leviton in Orlando. The retail worker says he usually supports Democrats, but ultimately decided to cast his ballot for the Green Party’s Jill Stein because her views more closely align with Bernie Sanders. He supported Sanders in the presidential primary.

Leviton says he didn’t believe in the messages of either Trump or Clinton.

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12:57 p.m.

Josee Voigt stopped by a Gainesville church on Election Day to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton, adding that as someone who moved to the United States and became a citizen she’s been put off by Donald Trump’s portrayal of immigrants.

But like 73-year-old Wanda Bass who voted for Donald Trump at a church in nearby Waldo on Tuesday morning, 49-year-old Voigt says she’s just happy that the election is almost over.

Voigt says the stress of the election is causing her 15-year-old daughter to have nightmares. While she doesn’t support Trump, the registered nurse says she hopes if he wins he’ll “be able to behave as a head of state and not embarrass us.”

Bass says the divisive election is having a positive impact by inspiring “more people to get involved in the process.” Bass says she’s not going to worry about who wins, adding “one of them will get in and serve their four years.”

8:25 a.m.

More than half of Florida’s active registered voters have already cast ballots ahead of Election Day.

Numbers released by the state Division of Elections early Tuesday show that 6.51 million voters have either voted early or voted by mail. There are nearly 12.9 million active registered voters.

Early voting wrapped up over the weekend, but election supervisors can continue to accept mailed in ballots until 7 p.m. on Election Day.

The new numbers show Democrats have built up a more than 90,000 vote lead over Republicans. So far 2.59 million Democrats have voted compared to 2.5 million Republicans.

More than 1.25 million voters registered with no party affiliation have also voted.

Florida could surpass its overall vote total from 2012. During that presidential election more than 8.5 million people voted.

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8 a.m.

In Gainesville, three University of Florida students were among the millions of the state’s voters who voted early.

Two of them – 21-year-olds Austin Young and TJ Pyche – cast ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton. In fact, Pyche says he was a registered Republican who changed his party affiliation to no party after John Kasich lost to Donald Trump. The third, 22-year-old Michael Beato, declined to say who he voted for. But he was a Jeb Bush supporter in the presidential primaries.

All three say they are glad to see the divisive campaign coming to an end, and hope the country can start to heal after Election Day, no matter who becomes president.

Down ballot, all three voted against Amendment 1, which could allow power companies to impose fees on customers who install solar panels.

Young and Pyche also voted in favor of a Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana.

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7:15 a.m.

Polls are open in Florida, where roughly half of the state’s active voters have already cast their ballots.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, could easily tip the presidential election. Both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have crisscrossed Florida in the days leading up to Election Day.

Marcy Osier who moved from Georgia to St. Petersburg in October was among those casting early voters in Florida. The 63-year-old retired tax accountant says she’s “nervous” about the election because “there are too many undecideds out there.”

Osier says she voted for Clinton, adding that she’s always been a fan. She’s mainly concerned about the economy, the middle class and education. She says she voted a straight Democratic ticking, including for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. Though she says she knew little about Murphy, she “had no trouble voting for him.”

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3:19 a.m.

Florida voters are deciding whether Republican Sen. Marco Rubio deserves a second term. The election in Florida also will send at least eight new members to Congress, play a critical role in the presidential race and decide whether to broaden access to medical marijuana.

Rubio is being challenged by Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. The second-term congressmen has repeatedly attacked Rubio for missing votes while running for president and supporting presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Senate race has been surprisingly close considering Rubio has a huge money and name recognition advantage. Republicans have criticized Murphy for embellishing his education and professional experience.

The race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton has also been close in the nation’s largest swing state. There’s little chance Trump can win the presidency without the state’s 29 electoral votes.

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