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The Importance Of Elections In The Sunshine States

Florida, the “Sunshine State”, has always had a big role for voting in the elections. According to the WEEK there a few reasons for that: Florida is a closed primary, they are more comparable to running a general election than most states, and they take a lot of delegates (WEEK staff 2012). The WEEK is a weekly British news magazine which also publishes a US edition. My goal in this paper is to explain why Florida holds so much importance. As we know, elections are not won by popular vote but they are won by gaining the most electoral votes.

The electoral college was created to ensure that everyone has an equal say in choosing the national president. Today there are 538 electors altogether from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These people consist of state party officials and they are chosen at party’s state conventions. Although after winning in Electoral College system a candidate can lose the popular vote and lose the election. An example of this occurred most recently in 2000, when Democrat Al Gore was defeated by Republican George W. Bush despite the fact that he had more votes more votes nationwide.

Al Gore was defeated because of disputed results in Florida which later became a supreme court case Gore v. Bush. Many articles have even been published about this case. For example Alex McBride, who is a third year law student at Tulane Law School in New Orleans is articles editor has written Madan 2 about the election in his article “Bush v Gore”. The outcome of the election depended on Florida, where Governor Bush led Vice President Gore by about 1,800 votes the morning after Election Day.

Because the results were so close, Florida law called for a recount of ballots through an automatic machine. The recount resulted in a tightening of the race, leaving Bush with a 327-vote lead out of 6 million cast. The state was too close to call who they rooted for. December 12, 2000, was the state’s deadline for selecting electors to submit Florida’s choice for president to Congress. The Supreme Court ruled that the Florida Supreme Court’s recount order was unconstitutional because it granted more protection to some ballots than to others, which violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

This clause forbids states from denying “any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. “The Court said that the order contained unequal processes that were past the processes required by Florida election law” (McBride n. d. ). So with no time left to recount votes consistent with the Court’s ruling, George W. Bush became the winner. While some celebrated the Court’s decision on equal rights during the political controversy, others criticized the decision as hypocritical.

According to McBride people said that, “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law” (McBride n. d. ). Another study done by Wade Payson-Denney, who is a CNN politics video producer, gives an idea of what the recount would’ve exactly showed. According to him, “Taken as a whole, the recount studies show Bush would have most likely won the Florida statewide hand Madan 3 recount of all undervotes.

Undervotes are ballots that did not register a vote in the presidential race… The studies also show that Gore likely would have won a statewide recount of all undervotes and overvotes, which are ballots that included multiple votes for president and were thus not counted at all. However, his legal team never pursued this action. The studies also support the belief that more voters went to the polls in Florida on Election Day intending to vote for Gore than for Bush. Even 15 years after the election, partisans on each side cherry-pick various scenarios that would have favored their candidate. (Payson-Denney 2015).

The undervotes were mainly of African Americans, and they were too only a handful. Denney’s study shows that the recount could’ve affected Gore or Bush significantly. The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, which was founded in 1957, is a bipartisan, independent commission of the United States federal government. They conducted an investigation of allegations of voting irregularities during the 2000 presidential election in Florida. Addressing voting rights issues is their big responsibility.

In a book they wrote, entitled “Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election”, the Commission states, “To ensure that every eligible citizen in Florida has an opportunity to exercise his or her right to vote, the state established a system of checks and balances that extends from the governor to the local poll worker. This system of control is codified in many of the provisions of the election laws of the state of Florida and, in part, is intended to help guarantee the rights granted to voters by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 will be protected” (Chapter 1 2001).

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. Madan 4 Erika Wood has been a professor at New York University, and Rutgers Law School. She has been recognized as one of the “most accomplished and innovative campaign and elections experts in the country” by the website topwonks. org. In an article she wrote, “Florida. How Soon We Forget. ”, she tells us about the reforms in voting laws made there and how that contributes to Florida having a big influence in elections.

According to the article, in the spring of 2011 there were changes made which included: taking voting rights away from people with criminal records, early voting provisions, voter identification requirements and online voter registrations. Voting laws are always a subject to reforms and debates. Wood states in here article, “When it comes to presidential elections, Florida matters. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is by far the most influential swing state in the country. Who gets to vote in Florida could determine who will win the election.

There are over 11 million registered voters in the state. But after the changes put in place last spring, there may be far fewer Floridians going to the polls in 2012” (Wood 2012). As more rules are set on voting, people might stop choosing to participate in voting. Because of those new changes Floridians may have had trouble casting a ballot. Another issue Erika Wood found was that African Americans participation in voting was less. Since there was has been a long and troubled history of voter discrimination in Florida, this raises some concerns.

This was even documented by the U. S. Commision on Civil Rights found that approximately 11 percent of Florida voters in 2000 were African Americans; yet they casted more than half of the 180,000 ballots which were rejected towards the election. The report showed that the Florida counties with high black populations, the rates of black voter registration were the lowest there. Madan 5 According to Wood, “The commission’s report presented corresponding statistics which showed that in the Florida counties with the highest black populations, the rates of black voter registration were the lowest in the state.

In Gadsden County, one of two Florida counties where in 1960 blacks were the majority of the local population, there were 12,261 African-Americans of voting age, only seven of whom were registered to vote” (Wood 2012). That is a shocking statistic to hear considering how many African Americans were there and how many actually voted. I’m sure we’ve all heard that Florida is the “Sunshine State”, but it is also called a “Swing State”. There are many other states included in the “swing states” category such as Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, etc, but Florida is the biggest.

It is by far the most influential state. The reason for that is there are about equal amounts of registered Republicans and Democrats there. 4. 4 million people are registered as Republicans and 4. 6 million people are registered as Democrats. And because of this reason Florida uses a closed primary. A closed primary is a type of primary election. In that kind of primary, only voters registered for the party which is holding the primary may vote.

It is limited to registered party members, who must declare their party affiliation in order to vote. The purpose of the closed rimary is to encourage party unity and prevent members of other parties from interfering and voting to nominate weak candidates. Another interesting point that relates to the latest election is that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton also advertised their presidency in Florida. They spent a lot of money on television ads.

According to CNN politics reporter, Martin Savidge, “Since early June, more Madan 6 money has been spent on television ads in Florida than any other state, with Clinton forces outspending Trump and his allies $20 million versus $1. million” (Savidge 2016). The two candidates spent so much for one obvious reason: Florida is a swing state. When we look back to previous elections we see that in the past two elections Florida voted for a Democratic president, and in the two elections before that, Republicans were chosen. We see that Florida’s majority can go to any party. In contrast Charles Minshew, a contact reporter, states “Since 1936, Floridians’ pick for president has lined up with the overall winner in 18 out of 20 elections.

That track record, the state’s growing diversity and its 29 electoral votes make the Sunshine State a perpetual target of campaigns” (Minshew 2016). Also if we look at New York as a contrasting example, most presidents that are voted for the most are Democrats. The last time a republican was chosen as a president was in 1984. This is shown by Sarah Wheaton in her article for the New York Times, entitled “New York: Not as Blue as It Could Be”. For a while, Florida has been the “swingiest swing state”.

Florida’s votes go to any party, which is why they are considered a swing state. Voting laws also have an effect on who votes and how many people vote. Changes in voting such as new automatic machines, more identification proof, and people with criminal records not being able to vote; all have effect results in voting. Florida is a closed primary, they are more comparable to running a general election than most states, and they take a lot of delegates. The “Sunshine State”, has always had a big role for voting in the elections and they always will for those reasons.

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