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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Florida has a nasty little habit of screwing up elections. Even if you weren't old enough to vote (and most UF students weren't) in 2000, you certainly heard all about butterfly ballots, hanging chads and Katherine Harris.

Tuesday is technically an election day, but since this is an off year, don't plan on heading to the polls.

Instead, we've decided to talk about how Florida is shooting itself in the foot for next year's primary elections. In March 2006, Florida legislators started talking about moving the state's Republican and Democratic primaries up to Jan. 29, 2008. The logic is sound: Give Florida, a huge swing state with 18 million people and 27 Electoral College votes, a chance to dictate the direction of the national election. In contrast, the two states that normally vote first in the primaries, Iowa and New Hampshire, have 11 votes - combined. Yeah, doesn't make much sense to us, either.

The problem the Democratic National Committee has with a Jan. 29 primary is that it is a week before the DNC allows votes to be cast. It has said that if Florida voters go to the polls too early, it won't be able to send any delegates to the Democratic convention.

Now, Democratic presidential candidates, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are steering clear of Florida, afraid of forfeiting any delegates won in this state.

Once the implications became clear, Florida Democratic leaders asked to move the primary to Feb. 5, which the Democratic committee would accept, but Republicans refused. And in Republican-controlled Tallahassee, that seems to be the end of the line.

Florida Democrats can't seem to figure out why the committee is punishing its own party, and neither can we. In August, the Democratic National Committee's rules committee decided to strip Florida of all its delegates.

Yet the primary is still going to be held Jan. 29 - and your vote for a presidential candidate, if you are a registered Democrat, will mean nothing. Instead, the state's Democratic party is working to raise money for caucuses to choose delegates for the national convention.

Talk about voter disenfranchisement. Yes, it's understandable that the Democratic committee has rules in place, and yes, Florida broke those rules, but millions of potential votes would mean nothing, and that's a huge problem. Of course, since Florida votes have never swung primaries in the past by much, it's not that much of a change. But that's beside the point.

More than 20 states will vote on Feb. 5, which has been dubbed by some as "Super-Duper Tuesday." That's the most primary elections ever held on one day.

It makes much more sense for Florida to move its election back a week to join other states, but the bill has been signed. Now neither side can budge.

Jonathan Soros, in a column in The New York Times last week, proposed that the nation move toward a national primary - which everyone's vote would count in. He compared it to "American Idol," stating that when everyone participates equally in the voting, more people will be likely to vote. While that sounds like a fantastic idea, it's nothing more than a fantastic fantasy.

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For now, all we can ask is for Democrats' votes to mean something, anything.

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