Florida’s partisanship and lack of electoral safeguards are allowing for a political atmosphere where politicians are not only able to be elected without a vote, but can – through the use of legal loopholes – avoid having to abide by rules intended to make state-level elections more fair.
A result of voting districts boundaries that overwhelmingly favor one political party and its incumbents, 35 Florida politicians ran unopposed this year.
Ray Sansom, the now criminally indicted former Republican House speaker from Destin, was charged with misappropriating millions in tax dollars for a friend and was one of 58 politicians in 2006 and one of 42 in 2008 who ran unopposed.
As if having dozens of politicians elected without a vote isn’t bad enough, “write-in candidates” are making things worse.
Only adhered to since 1998, Florida’s constitution says that all registered voters are allowed to vote in a party’s primary if all candidates in the election are from the same party, which often occurs as a result of favorable voting districts.
To avoid this, candidates are “written-in” and placed on the ballot with no chance of winning just to keep party outsiders from having a vote in the primary, which is currently the case with two state Senate and 10 House elections.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, only about two-fifths of all registered voters are able to vote for their district’s representative in the two Senate races.
Unethical in nature, this is merely another example of careful political maneuvering by Florida politicians in an attempt to de-legitimize Florida’s elections process in their favor.
Change is much-needed, as write-in candidates include 32-year-old social security recipient and Winn-Dixie employee Joseph Graser, 20-year-old college student Kimberly Renspie of North Carolina and 30-year-old Derek Crabb, who works at Petco and part-time at a Target in Carrollwood, the Times reported.
Pushed by state Sen. Dave Aronberg for several years, Florida’s political representatives will consider legislation requiring write-ins to run in the primary elections of the party listed on their voter registration.
Most write-in candidates share the same party affiliation as the candidates of the favored party, according to the Times.
Although districts may lean either Democratic or Republican, those who are not a member of a district’s majority party should still have a say in their local elections beyond being able to vote for a pre-determined candidate or a dangerously underqualified opponent.
Otherwise, there is reason to believe that Florida’s politics are nothing more than tools used to fulfill the will of a modern aristocracy that is unaccountable for and unconcerned with the checks and balances democracy affords, since power can go nearly unchecked in this dysfunctional environment.