No rush to fix Florida’s out­dated vot­ing sys­tem Repub­li­cans keep win­ning

Orlando Sentinel - - OPINION - By Ca­mara A. Wil­liams

In the year 2000, Bush ver­sus Gore rat­tled the United States. Amer­i­cans be­came fa­mil­iar with the terms “re­count” and “hang­ing chads.” In the wake of the na­tional em­bar­rass­ment, some­thing be­came read­ily ap­par­ent: Florida’s vot­ing sys­tem is wrought with prob­lems and in­con­sis­ten­cies. Eigh­teen years later, we are again faced with that hard truth. There is irony in that num­ber, but we shall get to that in a mo­ment.

One would think that with such an im­por­tant func­tion of our democ­racy op­er­at­ing so poorly, there would be an im­pe­tus to im­prove such a flawed sys­tem. And yet, here we are once again see­ing how one county’s bungling of votes re­veals the dirty lit­tle se­cret of Florida pol­i­tics — power feeds on con­fu­sion. It’s no won­der that the Democrats haven’t held the Gover­nor’s Man­sion in two decades, and that the Florida Leg­is­la­ture is iron­clad Repub­li­can. What is the rush to fix a clearly bro­ken sys­tem if you are con­tin­u­ally ben­e­fit­ing from it?

That’s not to say ev­ery Repub­li­can is a fan of such a prob­lem­atic sys­tem. But one should ask why are we still deal­ing with such an an­ti­quated vot­ing sys­tem? You wouldn’t use the same cell­phone from 18 years ago, but we are still us­ing the same vot­ing sys­tem? Ad­mit it, there is some­thing in­her­ently wrong with that con­cept. It is also not just the pro­cess­ing of votes that’s a prob­lem; it is the lack of uni­for­mity of bal­lots across the 67 coun­ties. Or the fact that in this year alone there were sev­eral amend­ments with three laws at­tached to them.

All of it ren­ders a con­fu­sion that makes you won­der why are we pur­posely putting up with this screwy sys­tem? To make mat­ters worse, you have NPA’s (No Party Af­fil­i­a­tion) un­able to vote in a pri­mary, thus forc­ing them to be part of a two-party sys­tem. This doesn’t lend it­self to in­spire trust in those who have yet to take part in our vot­ing sys­tem. Rather than en­cour­age in­volve­ment, it ac­tu­ally dis­cour­ages peo­ple from join­ing some­thing so dis­jointed.

Which brings me to a last and fi­nal point. We of­ten hear how young peo­ple don’t vote, and how we need more in­volve­ment from our youth­ful cit­i­zens. Well, imag­ine be­ing some­one who just turned 18 years old, and in the year of your birth there was this big con­tro­versy sur­round­ing vot­ing. Now in the first year of vot­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity, again you are prone to sto­ries of un­counted votes and gov­er­nors su­ing coun­ties for sim­ply count­ing the vote. Let me ask you, does that in­spire much con­fi­dence?

How­ever th­ese re­counts end up go­ing, one thing for cer­tain is we can’t af­ford to wait an­other 18 years to fix a bro­ken sys­tem. If we don’t, we risk los­ing an­other gen­er­a­tion of vot­ers be­com­ing dis­il­lu­sioned with the process. That is, of course, if those in power ben­e­fit­ing from such a bro­ken sys­tem see no rea­sons to revamp such an out­dated for­mat. Which gives a whole new mean­ing to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Oh the irony of such a state­ment.

Clock­wise from top left, An­drew Gil­lum, Ron DeSan­tis, Rick Scott and Bill Nel­son.

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