Saturday, August 02, 2014

Update on the Gerrymander Court Decision, and How It Affects Voting for Florida

The judge in that gerrymandering case is ordering the state legislature to convene a Special Session to redraw the illegal districts into something legal by August 15th.  I thought he'd wait but apparently he didn't: worse, it took him a month to make up his mind to order this done.

Because what this does is throw the entire voting calender into chaos:

...The practical effect is that lawmakers must convene a special session in the next two weeks to meet the map-fixing deadline. Lewis would then decide when and if special elections would be held for the districts whose boundaries have been modified.
Candidates would then have to qualify again, election officials would have to modify precinct maps, and the costs of the elections could rise...
While I'm all for making the Florida Legislature's collective life miserable for making these illegal gerrymanders in the first place, I dunno if this is the way to go. What's going to happen is that the election cycle - the primary at the end of this month, and the general election in November - is going to get thrown off-track. By messing with the dates we can have these elections, we're risking the likelihood most residents won't know when to really vote.

Continue reading

Voter turnout has been, continues to be, the great unspoken scandal of our age.  It's not voter ID fraud that's the problem, it's the 39 percent turnout of the extremists.  We've got this high population count in Florida - 18 million give or take 450,000 illegals - and 11 million registered voters making it 61 percent of the residents able to vote... and then just 5 million or so actually showing up to vote, with 6 million sitting at home for some reason or another.

Why that 6 million no-shows?  Partly due to apathy, partly due to disgust with the ballot being filled with unwanted choices, a good amount due to people just unable to get in line at their precinct to vote because of work or family or other conflicts of time.

A lot of our poor turnout is due to confusion over where and when to vote.  Our system of using precincts as polling places spreads out across the counties to where people are uncertain which is theirs to use.  One street can get assigned to a polling spot five miles away, yet those homes could be five blocks away from another polling spot for a neighboring precinct.  And our rules make it so that you HAVE to vote at that precinct, due to how districts at all levels are drawn out.  The most frustrating thing for voters is to show up at a precinct only to be told they got to keep moving up-road to ANOTHER place they might not be able to find...

The "when to vote" is the other sticking point: people still can't get used to the idea that elections can be held on a Tuesday, in the middle of the week.  There may have been reasons to doing that back in the 1800s, but in this day and age there's little reason to keep doing that.  It doesn't help that primaries are held inconsistently over election cycles: while the general elections tend to be the first Tuesday of November, primaries are sometimes held in March... or August... nowadays January for the Presidential primary... maybe May... sometimes Y.

Forcing a delay on this year's primaries and general election, at least for the congressional offices, is going to make it harder to get the voters fully informed on when they'll need to get their votes in.  It'll make it harder in terms of knowing or learning who's on the ballot anymore.  It also depends on how disruptive the redesigning of the gerrymandered districts will get: It will clearly affect all of the connected congressional districts - about 7 or 8 of them - and could conceivably cascade across the entire state anyway.

While normally that might be a good thing - fix ALL the districts to be fairly based on population density and not partisan protection - this might not be the time to do it.  It may be better to wait after this election is done, and then get the districts redrawn so that by 2016's election cycle they'll be in place and the county elections offices are prepped and ready.

Of course, we voters can make this all academic by keeping alert, checking our county elections office websites for updated information, and especially by GETTING THE VOTE OUT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE so that we don't have to worry about wrong precincts or getting lost or not showing up on time.

That said, here's the current Early Voting directory by county.  I know where to go for Polk County now... and I'm still miffed at Pinellas County only having three (THREE?!) early voting polling spots, none of them in North Pinellas.  Dudes.  DUDES!  You got how many people in Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Ozona, Crystal Beach, East Lake, Oldsmar, Dunedin that have to drive down to Clearwater?!  Just find a spot in Tarpon or Palm Harbor or Oldsmar to host and GET IT DONE.  Sheesh.  I swear, growing up in North Pinellas felt like being in Siberia cut off from the rest of the county... and we're one of the smallest geographic counties in the state (with the most population!).  Mutter grumble getting old grumble etc.

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