More than a million voters had already cast an early or mail vote before the polls opened this morning, but because of a loophole that protects partisan primaries, more than a million other voters won’t get a say in who represents them come November.
Voters in 19 primary elections across Florida were not allowed to vote for the candidate who will likely take office. Republicans are allowed to vote in Democratic primaries and vice versa if no one from the other party is on the November ballot. But if there is a write in candidate…someone who only says they want to run, then the primary is closed to only that party’s voters.
Ask yourself, have you ever voted for a write in? “No” responded the voters we spoke with. Political scientist Carol weissert says Florida law is outside the norm. “It’s a very strange law in Florida. I’m not sure of another state that has that kind of law. But basically it disenfranchise a lot of people,” says Weissert.
If all the races that were closed by a write in candidate were open, a million more people would have had a chance to cast a ballot this primary. Write in candidates pay no fee, seldom campaign, and are often stand-ins to keep the other party from having a say.
Ben Wilcox, from government watchdog Integrity Florida says the practice leads to grid lock. “It keeps moderates from voting in either Republican primaries or Democrats in Republican primaries, so it makes those primaries more to the right or the left” says Wilcox.
The state says its hands are tied.
But no so fast. It took an advisory opinion from a previous Secretary of State to put a rule in place to keep the other party silent. Both Republicans and Democrats are equal offenders…blocking voters from casting a meaningful vote.
Voters in 16 House Districts, 2 Senate Districts and 1 Florida Congressional race could not vote today. Democrats only were running in five of the elections, Republicans in the other 14.