Last Day to Register to Vote in the March 17 Florida Primary

Today is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming Florida primary, or to change party registration in order to vote in a different party’s primary. Go to www.registertovoteflorida.gov to register to vote or to change party affiliation.

The Florida primary is on March 17, two weeks after ‘Super Tuesday.’ If you’re already registered to vote, you may choose to enroll in vote-by-mail. Go to www.votefromhome.miami to request a vote-by-mail ballot. Note that this request will remain in effect until you countermand it.

Florida is very free and easy with postal ballots, which I think undermines democracy in several ways, notably that it makes ballot fraud easier (e.g. ‘ballot harvesting’ — a South Florida specialty — and forgery), and that it undermines the secret ballot (e.g. making it easier to sell votes since the seller can prove how he voted, and also enabling pressure from family members demanding to see the ballot).  But postal voting can be very convenient.  Whether they count the ballot is of course a matter of faith.

Remember: Florida has closed primaries, which means you must be registered as a Democrat to vote in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, or a Republican to vote in Republican primaries. If you are registered as an independent (or no party preference), you don’t get to vote in any party’s primary.

There is a state constitutional amendment making its way through the system to require open primaries, but I’m not a great fan of it.

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6 Responses to Last Day to Register to Vote in the March 17 Florida Primary

  1. Just me says:

    What’s your hangup on the open primary amendment?

    Open primaries may have their flaws. But given the importance of primaries and the freedom of association (i.e. I shouldn’t have to join either big party if I don’t like them). Couldn’t a reasonable argument be made that public policy strongly favors open primaries and that closed primaries effectively disenfranchise independent voters?

    Also, I’d guess that open primaries nationwide would lead to less division/more moderate candidates and elections.

    • There are a lot of problems. The biggest is that when Party A has an incumbent or otherwise dominant candidate, the incentive is for members of Party A to vote in Party B’s primary and pick the weakest, nuttiest candidate. Indeed, there is an incentive to run a stealth joke candidate, maybe someone with a skeleton, or who is paid off not to actually campaign seriously if nominated. This badly undermines the 2-party system.

      It may be right that if both parties have genuinely contested primaries then the open primary may push parties to the center. I’d have to think about that. But even if that is true, I’m not sure that is a great thing. The center is not always the place where one finds change, and change is sometimes needed. Wasn’t it the late great Jim Hightower who said ‘there’s nothing in the middle of the road except a yellow stripe and dead armadillos’?

      • Just me says:

        Also, you suggest that open primaries create “an incentive to run a stealth joke candidate, maybe someone with a skeleton, or who is paid off not to actually campaign seriously if nominated.” I am fortunate/cursed to know (or have known – I haven’t seen him in years) Roger Stone personally. He’s been using that trick for decades. And its got nothing to do with whether or not the primary is open or closed. I gather from him it works just fine in either system.

        • Like everything else that guy says, must be taken with great caution. I agree it can be done in a closed primary, indeed I have seen it attempted right here in south florida several times, although not with success in large races.

          The difference in an open primary is you often don’t even need to run the candidate: they run themselves, and then you (quietly, sometimes) whip the vote for them to undermine the other party. Also voters from Party A are happy to undermine Party B in large numbers, while in a closed primary if the candidate is exposed, support will evaporate (but in the open it might increase due to party A people storming in). Not something to encourage.

  2. Just me says:

    No perfect answers. But, for me, I’d prefer moderate sanity with slower than perfect change over Sanders/Trump in November and the current state of division.

    Also, you lament that “This badly undermines the 2-party system.” That, though, doesn’t sound so bad. The modern two party system appears to be the root of many of our ills. And its only getting worse. Check this out, for example: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/impeachment-didnt-change-minds-it-eroded-trust/

    • I’d vastly prefer an instant run-off ballot (preferential voting) and have said so many times. That creates more space for 3rd and 4th views. But the solution is not to keep the current voting system and make it even more vulnerable to manipulation.

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