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Category: Florida (page 2 of 4)

Is the Disenfranchisement of 1.5 Million Floridians Justifiable?

By Christine Wilson

Early voting in Florida has already begun, but Florida voters are not necessarily enthusiastic about either candidate for Governor. Democratic candidate and former Governor Charlie Crist switched political parties and many Floridians distrust him because of his switch. Voters are also not very fond of Governor Rick Scott because of his stance on various issues. According to six out of ten voters, the phrase “honest and ethical” describes neither Governor Scott nor Crist. Continue reading

Florida’s Lukewarm Remedy for Chilly Early Voting Policies

By Nick Raffaele

While Florida’s relationship with early voting is still relatively new, the honeymoon may already be over. But to understand the hot and cold affair, it is helpful to look back on the couple’s history. Former Governor Jeb Bush first signed early voting into Florida law in 2004, providing early voting fifteen days before an election, eight hours per weekday and eight hours per weekend. Only a short year later, Bush and a Republican legislature cooled on the partnership, dropping the last Monday of early voting before a Tuesday election. The relations heated up again when former Governor Charlie Crist signed an executive order mandating that early voting be extended in response to overwhelming voter turnout for the 2008 Presidential election. Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, Florida again turned its back on early voting in 2011 by passing a controversial law that reduced early voting to eight days before an election for a minimum of six hours and a maximum of twelve hours per day. Continue reading

Gerrymandered or Court Ordered: The Second Re-Drawing Is the Charm for Florida’s Fifth

By: Jonathan Gonzalez

After the first round of judicial wrangling over two allegedly gerrymandered congressional districts, a Florida judge ordered on July 10th 2014 that the Florida fifth and tenth districts be sent back to the drawing board. The dispute arose from the Florida House of Representative’s mandated redrawing of the state’s congressional districts under amendments to Florida’s constitution passed during the 2010 election cycle. The amendments were intended to ensure that legislative districts were drawn cohesively and without favoring any political party. The Republican controlled state legislature interpreted “cohesive” as a mandate to pack African American voters into one district.

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The Plight of Third-Party Organizations attempting to Register Voters in Florida

by Aaron Carter, Associate Editor

Alberto, Ernesto, Florence and Valerie are all names of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes that have taken shape in 2012.  As of now they are 4 of the 21 hurricanes we have seen this season.  Hurricane season in Florida ranges from bad to worse depending on the storm systems that are cooked up in any given year.  Still, a hurricane or any other type of force majeure will not exonerate a third party organization for not turning in voter registration forms within the 48-hour window provided under Fla. Stat. § 97.0575 and implementing rule 1S 2.042.  HB1355, which passed in 2011 and amended the statute states, “[T]he fines provided in this subsection shall be reduced by three-fourths in cases in which the third party voter registration organization’s failure to deliver the voter registration application within the required timeframe is based upon force majeure or impossibility of performance.”  Third-party organizations have been in a battle over various changes in election law the past two years. The regulations of third-party organizations registering voters in Florida have been adjudicated in court, but its effects may last until Election Day with significant consequences for a pivotal election.  Continue reading

Orlando’s redistricting advisory board may not please everyone

According to the 2010 census, the population of Orlando, FL has increased significantly over the past ten years, jumping from 185,951 in 2000 to a whopping 238,916 in 2010. This change in population has not occurred evenly over the city’s six districts, and new districts must be drawn as a remedy. This process is called redistricting.

Redistricting seeks to equalize representation in malapportioned districts. In Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims, two landmark United States Supreme Court decisions, the idea of equal representation came about through the notion of one person, one vote: “Whatever the means of accomplishment, the overriding objective must be substantial equality of population among the various districts, so that the vote of any citizen is approximately equal in weight to that of any other citizen in the State.”

In order to achieve a more even and representative portrait of Orlando, the Orlando City Council appointed a nine member board to handle the task of redistricting. In coming up with a proposed plan, the Redistricting Advisory Board also sought and received the input of many other Orlando citizens.

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An article on Florida election law that does not contain the word “recount”

by John Loughney

In the cold, competitive (comfortingly predictable) world of election reform, two factions are locked in an epic, endless struggle, and both are positive the guys on the other side of the aisle threaten to undermine our cherished democratic system.

On one side, the shadowy Republicans—or so the Dems would have you believe—ruthlessly disenfranchise the poor, the pigmented, and the felonious. They callously seek to raise identification standards beyond all reason and whittle voting windows to woeful new lows.

On the other, the conniving Democrats—or so the GOP attests—are valiantly protecting nothing more than the madness of an election process riddled with voter fraud. They ignore how administrative inconsistencies have marred our legitimacy and skewed our tallies, how civics teachers run rampantly afoul of state election law, how…

Wait, civics teachers? Continue reading

FL (primaries): Florida’s James Dean moment

by Joe Figueroa

In his magnum opus role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean portrays a frustrated teenager who is fed up with his bickering parents and causes all sorts of commotion by acting out against all sorts of authority figures.

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

The Sunshine State can relate.

The G.O.P. establishment has quickly portrayed Florida as the disobedient child after its Legislature decided to move the Presidential Primary date up to January 31st, throwing off the party’s planned schedule and forcing the big four primary states at the beginning of the cycle-Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to move their primaries and caucuses into January as well.

With this move, Florida is flying in the face of a parental grounding of sorts.  The Republican National Committee has promised to strip the state of half of its delegates at the National Convention next summer (being held in-you guessed it-Tampa), as well as threaten to move the delegation to the back of the Convention Center and away from the cameras.

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Weekly Wrap Up

No more automatic restoration of rights: Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet have recently attempted to change how released felon regain the right to vote. Their proposal, which the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund suggests must get preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, would prevent people who committed non-violent felonies from regaining the right to vote for 5 years and the 5 year clock would restart if that person were arrested during that period, even if no charges are filed. Some have called these requirements a return to Jim Crow-style voting laws.

Campaign finance again in front of the Supreme Court: As mentioned on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McComish v. Bennett on Monday morning. The case is a constitutional challenge to Arizona’s Clean Elections Act, which includes a trigger fund provision for publicly-funded candidates. This is one a several such cases that have been heard in federal courts in the last year; several other challenges have come out of Florida, Connecticut, and most recently Wisconsin in the ongoing judicial elections.

“Fair Districts” Amendments go to the Justice Department: Three months after Governor Rick Scott quietly withdrew the preclearance request for the “Fair Districts” amendments (Amendments 5 and 6 to the Florida constitution), the legislature has renewed the request, after reviewing the amendments and deciding they were the proper body to make the request, as opposed to the governor. This, however, will likely not end the battle over these amendments as a lawsuit to block these amendments is still pending.

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Weekly Wrap Up

No More Polling Places?: The Colorado legislature is considering a new bill that would eliminate polling places and instead conduct all state-wide elections by mail only. Over 70% of Colorado voters already vote by mail, and the proposal would save the state $12 million annually.

The More the Merrier: The race for San Francisco mayor has an expanding field, as more candidates join the field, thanks to the use of ranked-choice voting. The system, which has been used since 2004, created a successful “Anyone but _____” campaign in the 2010 elections and is shaping up to lead to the same results this year.

300 Taxpayer Dollars an Hour to Fight the Popular Vote: The fight over Amendment 6 in Florida continues as the Florida House has joined the lawsuit filed by two Congressional representatives. The lawsuit, which has cost taxpayers $700,000 and counting, contends that the amendment to redraw congressional districts (supported by more than 60% of the popular vote) is unconstitutional.

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Weekly Wrap Up

“It’s time to stop stonewalling”: The NAACP and the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against new Florida governor Rick Scott, demanding that he submit the voter-approved redistricting amendments to the Justice Department for review. Scott quietly withdrew a request for review in January shortly after taking office.

Misspellings might be OK in AK: A new measure proposed in the Alaska Senate would update the write-in laws, explicitly allowing minor misspellings on write-in votes to count. The law, proposed in response to the 2010 U.S. Senate election, cleared committee this week and should be voted on within days.

Voter IDs High on States’ Agendas: Across the nation, various states are considering voter identification laws. Some, like North Carolina’s proposal, have been in the works for several years; others, like in Minnesota, are new and focus on new technologies to prevent voter fraud. States like Texas, which are subject to the Voter Rights Act, must get these new laws–if passed–approved by the Department of Justice.

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