In the primary elections last August 28, just 27.46 percent of Florida’s more than 13-million registered voters cast a ballot. And that was a significant increase compared to the 2014 mid-term primary, when just 15 percent voted. The turnout in the November 2014 election was 51 percent of registered voters, and an array of activists and organizations are working to increase that level of participation.
In the Caribbean-American community, activists such as attorney Marlon Hill, media personalities such as Eddy Edwards and Cleve Osbourne on WAVS and WZAB, and organizations such as Caribbean Politically Active Citizens (CAPAC) are urging and mobilizing Caribbean-Americans to vote.
“Caribbean voters definitely had an effect in the primary vote,” said Hill, pointing to the South Florida cities of Lauderhill, Miramar and Miami Gardens where he said the Caribbean-American voter turnout was significant. Hill says his analysis of the primary shows a need for more voter education. An example, he said, is the number of people registered as NPA (No Party Affiliation) who did not realize that this registration limited their choices in the primaries. Hills message to the Caribbean-American community?
“If you want make sure that history is made on November 6, you cannot be a spectator.”
“Voters will have to do some homework.” MARLON HILL
On November 6 Florida voters, like citizens across the country, will be making decisions which will impact our lives for the foreseeable future. We’ll be electing a Governor, a U.S. Senator, three members of the House of Representatives, as well as state, county and municipal leaders. [See list of main races and candidates on page ???] We’ll be deciding on proposed changes to the Florida constitution.
At the county level, voters will decide on charter changes which will impact how local governments function. For example, Miami-Dade county citizens will vote on issues ranging from designating the City Clerk a non-partisan office for the purpose of elections, to permitting a modest property tax increase to fund salary increases for teachers and pay for additional school safety measures. There are similar issues in other counties.
Also on the ballot are more narrowly focused issues which affect only specific communities. For example, voters in the City of Miami will decide whether to allow the city commission to negotiate a deal with a group led by retired British soccer star David Beckham, and local businessman, Jorge Mas, to develop a soccer stadium on city owner land.
In keeping with the education component its mission Caribbean Today has compiled a collection of resources and tips to help voters better inform themselves about the issues, the candidates and the election machinery.
Who is eligible to vote?
To be eligible to vote you must meet a few basic requirements.
In order to register to vote, you must:
Be a citizen of the United States of America (a lawful permanent resident is not a U.S. citizen for registration and voting purposes).
Be a Florida resident.
Be at least 18 years old.
Not have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having had your voting rights restored.
Not have been convicted of a felony in Florida, or any other state, without your civil rights having been restored
Provide your current and valid Florida driver's license number or Florida identification card number. If you do not have a current and valid Florida driver's license number or Florida identification card, you must provide the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you do not have any of the above, check the appropriate box provided on the voter registration application.
For eligible to voters
First of all, make a plan to vote.
As a first step in that plan, you should download a sample ballot from the website of your county supervisor of elections and study it carefully to determine the issues and candidates.
Decide whether you will vote by mail, cast your ballot at an early voting site or will vote on election day.
To vote by mail you must request a ‘mail-in ballot’ from the Supervisor of Elections by October 31. The advantage of voting by mail is that you can more carefully study the positions of the candidates and research the various issues. Mail-in ballots must be returned to the county elections office by 7:00 PM election day.
State regulations allow counties some flexibility in determining the number of early voting sites and their hours of operation. In Miami-Dade for example, early voting will be conducted at various sites Tuesday 22nd October to Sunday 4th November. Visit your supervisor of elections to website for details.
In person voting is on Tuesday 6th November 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM. If you are in line at 7:00 PM you must be allowed to vote.
Whether you are voting early, or on election day, be sure to carry a government issued photo ID with a signature to the polls.
CARIBBEAN AMERICAN POLITICALLY ACTIVE CITIZENS
For the August 28, 2018 primary vote, Caribbean American Politically Active Citizens (CAPAC), a group chaired by university professor Dr. Marcia Magnus, continued a task it adopted in 2000 with the publication of a Voters’ Guide “dedicated to all the African Americans who were legally and illegally barred from voting in ANY election.”
Dr. Magnus says CAPAC members have conducted detailed media-based research on the candidates and issues, consulted with non-partisan advocacy organizations and local community leaders, and attended town hall meetings.
CAPAC notes however, that its recommendations should substitute for voters doing their own “evaluation and research based on your own personal interests and values.”
At the time of publication the organization had not yet published its recommendations for the November 6 general elections. CAPAC can be contacted at 954 454 7473.
FLORIDA LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
Founded in 1920, the League of Women Voters of the US (LWVUS) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, grassroots activist organization operating in all 50 states, which works to promote democracy by encouraging the involvement of voters regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or national origin. While the League does not endorse candidates, it does support issues which it assesses will strengthen democracy. For example, the League’s Florida chapters are actively supporting Constitutional Amendment 4 which if passed, would restore the voting rights of convicted felons, after they have served their sentence and completed all court ordered penalties.
The League has posted comprehensive voter information on a website constructed specifically for the November 6 election which can be accessed at: vote411.org. Voters can enter their address to display information about the races and the candidates.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
The Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, has overall responsibility for elections in Florida. The Division consists of three bureaus:
…the Bureau of Election Records
…the Bureau of Voter Registration Services, and
…the Bureau of Voting Systems Certification
It provides administrative and technical support to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who is Florida’s Chief Election Officer, and has responsibility to ensure that Florida has fair and accurate elections. Type myflorida.com/elections into your browser to access the Division of Elections’ online resources.
SUPERVISORS OF ELECTIONS
The Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, also provides administrative and technical support of the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) in each of Florida’s 67 counties. The Office of the Supervisor of Elections in each county provides detailed and extremely useful information about races and candidates, deadlines and early voting sites. For example, voters can download a sample ballot from their SOE’s website. No need to remember any complicated URL. Just type the name of your county (e.g. Palm Beach) followed by Supervisor of Elections, and a wealth of election related material will be available.
The telephone numbers for the SOE’s in the tri-county area are:
Miami Dade Supervisor of Elections: 305-499-8683
Broward Supervisor of Elections: 954-357-7070
Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections: 561-656-6200
Caribbean Today does not endorse candidates, nor does our publication make recommendations on specific issues. However, several other media houses do so.
For example, in the lead up to the August primaries, the major daily newspapers in the tri-county area; the Palm Beach Post, the South-Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald, conducted joint-interviews with the candidates for Governor, and individual interviews with the candidates in many of the other races. On the basis of those interviews, the newspapers endorsed candidate in the primaries and have done the same for the same for the November elections. That information is available from their websites.
While they have not endorsed candidates or ballot issues, the local television news stations, especially on their Sunday morning talk-shows, have been conducting interviews with candidates and hosting panel discussions on the various issues. These interviews and debates are posted on their websites for public perusal. For example, Glenna Milberg of WPLG/Local 10, delves into the pros and cons of the twelve constitutional amendments on the ballot, in short videos which are posted on the station’s website.
The Main Races
Below we list the main races and the candidates contesting for those positions. Where there is an incumbent, that candidate’s name is listed first, regardless of party affiliation. All other candidates are listed alphabetically.
United States Senator:
Bill Nelson (DEM)
Rick Scott (GOP)
Representative in Congress-District 23:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DEM)
Joseph “Joe” Kaufman (GOP)
Timothy A. “Tim” Canova
Representative in Congress-District 25:
Mario Diaz-Balart (GOP)
Mary Barzee Flores (DEM)
Representative in Congress-District 26:
Carlos Curbelo (GOP)
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (DEM)
Representative in Congress, District 27:
Maria Elvira Salazar (GOP)
Donna Shalala (DEM)
Governor and Lieutenant Governor:
Ron DeSantis and Jeanette Nuñez (GOP)
Andrew Gillum and Chris King (DEM)
Darcy G. Richardson and Nancy Argenziano
Kyle “KC” Gibson and Ellen Wilds
Ryan Christopher Foley and John Tutton Jr.
Bruce Stanley and Ryan Howard McJury
Ashley Moody (GOP)
Sean Shaw (DEM)
Jeffrey Marc Siskind
Chief Financial Officer:
Jimmy Patronis (GOP)
Jeremy Ring (DEM)
Commissioner of Agriculture:
Matt Caldwell . (GOP)
Nicole “Nikki” Fried Pérez (DEM)
State Senator-District 36:
Manny Diaz Jr. (GOP)
David Pérez (DEM)
State Senator-District 40:
Annette Taddeo (DEM)
Marili Cancio (GOP)
State Representative-District 103:
Frank Mingo (GOP)
Cindy Polo (DEM)
State Representative-District 105:
Javier Estevez (DEM)
Ana Maria Rodriguez (GOP)
State Representative-District 108:
Riquet Caballero (Libertarian)
Dotie Joseph (DEM)
State Representative-District 111:
Bryan Avila (GOP)
Rizwan Ahmed (DEM)
State Representative-District 112:
Nicholas Xavier Duran (DEM)
Rosa Maria “Rosy” Palomino (GOP)
State Representative-District 113:
Jonathan “J.P.” Parker (GOP)
Michael Grieco (DEM)
State Representative-District 114:
Javier Fernandez (DEM)
Javier Enriquez (GOP)
State Representative-District 115:
Vance Aloupis (GOP)
Jeffrey Solomon (DEM)
State Representative-District 116:
Daniel Anthony Perez (GOP)
James Alexander Harden (DEM)
State Representative-District 118:
Robert Asencio (DEM)
Anthony Rodriguez (GOP)
State Representative-District 119:
Juan Fernandez-Barquin (GOP)
Heath Rassner (DEM)
Daniel E. Sotelo (DEM)
State Representative, District 120:
Holly Raschein (GOP)
Steve Friedman (DEM)