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writing for godot

The arrogance and incompetence of the system

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Written by Alvaro Fernandez   
Friday, 16 November 2018 07:41

By Alvaro Fernandez

MIAMI – One can almost laugh at results of elections in Florida. Inept. Incompetent. Disastrous. All words that can be used to describe what too often happens when counting ballots cast in this, the third largest state in the union. And the fact is that it is not a laughing matter. It is actually devastating. And makes one wonder how it affects the psyche of voters, many of whom question if their votes make a difference.

It is old news by now. Several elections in Florida have yet to be decided. A Senate seat, the governor’s mansion, and the agricultural commissioner’s post are still in play. Part of the reason is the closeness of these elections. All three fall under the .5 percent threshold that by Florida law requires a recount. At least two of the races may fall under the .25 percent threshold requiring a manual recount. In other words, the candidates are separated by less than a one-half percent difference in votes received.

That is not the problem, though. It is the technology and some of the supervisors, of election departments, from around the state who have shown themselves to be inept, lazy, incompetent, arrogant, partisan, and some even all of the above. That is the problem. One that erodes the electoral democracy we boast about — at times even starting illegal wars to force others to adopt our “exceptional” system.

Who will win these three elections is not the point of this column. It is what results from these disasters that since 2000, and here in Florida, have become too commonplace.

I’ve always wondered why a country where banks issue millions of ATM cards and credit cards that seem to work almost to perfection, don’t appear able to run fair elections — without ‘glitches’ in the system(s) of voting. Yes systems, because instead of standardizing the system, each county has differing machines and ways of doing what should be the same for all.

In the past I have received calls, texts and emails whenever something appears abnormal with one of my credit cards. Usually, there have been no problems. Other times the culprits are caught or stopped.

And yet, when it comes to voting, our politicians don’t feel it necessary to come up with an almost fool-proof system of casting ballots that could possibly even increase the number of voters who participate in elections. The excuses are too many to enumerate. But the one I like best makes no sense.

I’ve been told that “it would be too costly.” So these politicians, in my opinion, have put a price tag on our democracy. They will consider building walls to keep immigrants out, spend money building war ships and war planes that kill others, spend money building weapons of mass destruction that can blow up the earth hundreds of times over… but when it comes to voting: it may be too costly to fix the problem.

The case reminds me of an old friend, no longer with us, who used to tell me that the inadequacies in the system were exactly what some of these politicians use to manipulate results in their favor. It is something to consider…

Let me give you an example based on the just terminated Florida elections. We have the case of Broward County, the state’s most Democratic county, one that went in favor of Democratic Party candidate Andrew Gillum and Democratic Senatorial candidate and incumbent by a margin of around 70 to 30 percent. The supervisor in that county, Dr. Brenda Snipes, is inept, incompetent and arrogant. The Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement has stated that there was no fraud committed there. They just weren’t prepared. Snipes, without a doubt, needs to go.

And yet, both Republican candidates have been screaming “fraud!” every chance they have when referring to Broward. They don’t want ALL the votes counted, apparently.

But nobody’s screaming “fraud” when referring to Bay County in the northern part of the state. It’s a county that went almost three to one for both Republican candidates. And the supervisor there did break the law. As reported by the Miami Herald, “After Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle in October, the top elections official in Bay County allowed about 150 displaced voters to cast ballots by email, even though there is no provision that allows for it in state law.”

“Voting by fax or email is not an option under the Executive Order,” the Florida Department of State stated in a news release.

Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen, a Republican, told the Herald that “When devastation happens, leaders rise to the top and make decisions.”

Andersen said that all of those ballots were verified by signature, and that he made the decision to allow voters to scan and email in their ballots to his office for those who were “displaced.” He declined to elaborate on exactly how his office verified displacement in every case. “If I can validate it with a signature, the ballot is there, how is that different than a ballot that comes in through the post office?”

Again I will return to my earlier point. This is not about who wins. It’s about a system that is not so slowly eroding the trust voters have in an electoral process that all data shows is losing potential voters instead of gaining them.

Then we go through a midterm election in Florida that had record turnout, and the results can only be defined by incompetence and partisanship, with arrogance thrown in.

And later we wonder why so many Americans don’t vote.

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