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Expediting Florida primary is foolish, costly

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012

Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2012 02:01

 

In an attempt to gain more influence over the Republican nomination for the presidential race, Florida may have inadvertently ousted itself from the conversation.

According to Fox News, the national GOP announced Wednesday that Florida will face a few more punishments for violating party rules and holding an early primary Jan. 31.

In addition to having the number of delegates that can cast votes at the Republican National Convention (RNC) slashed from 99 to 50, the delegates will now have "poor seating and poor hotel options," as well as a limited number of guest passes to the rally.

Given that the convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, these new punishments appear to be a proverbial dunce cap — meant to embarrass and dissuade the Florida Republicans from continuously breaking the rules. Yet like a willful child, Florida officials seem to think that they've pulled a fast one.

The first time Florida moved up the date of its primary, things went according to plan — at first. With the hope of increasing its influence, Florida held an early primary in 2008 and locked Arizona Sen. John McCain to the GOP nomination, but the power of influence fell flat.

According to NPR, McCain barely won a third of the votes cast in the state. But because Florida and many of the states that fell in its shadow operated under a winner-takes-all voting system, McCain found himself facing off against Democratic candidate Barack Obama later that year. Needless to say, Obama won Florida and the rest of the country with the Democrats' proportional primary voting system.

"Winner-take-all kind of short-changes that process," Rob Ritchie, who heads the elections reform group fairvote.org, said to NPR. "It can make a front-runner become the inevitable nominee more quickly than … the party is ready for him to win."

With early primaries expediting McCain's nomination, Florida's sphere of influence collapsed on itself — a history that may be repeated in a mere three weeks. Such actions in the 2008 election prompted the RNC to rule that any state that retains a winner-take-all system would have to wait until April to let smaller and

proportional states cast the first votes.

Sacrificing half of the state's votes to retain a flawed system of voting is certainly not in the best interest of Florida's voters, and will only serve to confuse an already murky race to the nomination. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Ron Paul will not even visit Florida for the primary because of its loss of delegates.

Florida is big. Florida will always be influential, regardless of whether its delegates get on the nightly news first. But according to Channel 10 News, it takes more than 1,000 delegate votes to win the Republican nomination, and Florida's 50 are as insignificant as Donald Trump's threats of running as a third-party candidate.

Unintentionally, in skipping the rules, Florida may have made itself more inconsequential to the ultimate outcome of the presidential race.

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