Verbose Voter Guide for October 19-November 3

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

Early voting in Miami-Dade County begins October 19 and ends November 1.  Early voting sites are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for standard in-person voting and for mail-in-ballot (VBM) drop off. If you live in Miami-Dade, you can vote or drop off your ballot at any early voting site. The ballot drop boxes are staffed, you can walk or dive up, and ballots are logged and returned to the elections department each night.

Miami-Dade County counts ballots as they are received. You can track your ballot here.

However, they will not count ballots that are received after election day, regardless of when they were sent. For this reason, the Miami-Dade Democratic party does not recommend returning ballots by US Mail after October 17. Please either vote in person or return your ballot at an elections department drop box instead.

Monday, November 2 is an electoral sabbath. All early voting locations are closed. However, there will be staffed VBM drop boxes at 4 locations in the county 7 am-7 pm on November 2 and 3:  The Elections Department Main Office in Doral, the Stephen P. Clark Center Downtown, The North Dade Public Library in Miami Gardens, and the South Dade Public Library in Cutler Bay.

November 3 is old school election day, you can vote at your local precinct, but they will not accept VBM ballots.

Partisan Races:  My recommendations are straight-ticket Democratic. 

President/VP:  Biden/Harris

US Rep District 26: Mucarsel-Powell

US Rep District 27: Shalala

State Sen. District 37: Rodríguez

State Sen. District 39: Fernández

State Rep. District 112: Duran

State Rep. District 114: Bado

Clerk of the Circuit Court: Ruvin

Judicial Retentions: These are hard to get worked up about since we aren’t deciding between choices for judges, but just being asked to retain a slate of jurists entirely appointed by republican governors in a state that will continue to suffer under a republican governor at least until the 2022 midterms.  As such, there are good reasons for voting NO on all six on philosophical grounds. On the other hand, attorneys polled by the Dade County Bar Association overwhelmingly supported retaining all six. Given that attorneys are best situated to determine their suitability, this is a good reason to vote YES on all.  On the other-other hand, the Sun-Sentinel among some others have called for a NO vote on Superior Court Judge Carlos Muñiz, singling him out as especially poorly qualified and hyper-ideological.  Based on their logic, I’m recommending a YES vote on everyone but Muñiz.

FL Supreme Court:

Retention of Justice Muñiz: NO

3rd District Court of Appeals:

Retention of Judge Gordo: YES

Retention of Judge Hendon: YES

Retention of Judge Lobree: YES

Retention of Judge Logue: YES

Retention of Judge Miller: YES

County Races

County Commission: County commission races are technically non-partisan in the sense that party affiliations are not listed on the ballot, but these folks are all democrats in good standing and well-respected figures in local progressive politics.

District 5: Higgins

District 7: Lerner

District 9: McGhee

Miami-Dade County Mayor: Like the commission, the mayoral race does not list party affiliations, but in the race between Bovo and Levine Cava we have a very clear choice between a very popular and accomplished progressive (Levine Cava) and a Trumper (Bovo) who wants us to believe that his opponent is a communist.  

Mayor: Levine Cava

School Board: These recommendations follow those of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.  

District 3: Baez-Geller

District 5: Zapata

District 9: Santos

FL State Constitutional Amendments:  These proposed amendments are a typically weird mixed bag of misleading, criminally undemocratic, mildly undemocratic and actually good. 

The actually good proposal is #2, which would raise the minimum wage (gradually) to $15/hour.  The current minimum wage is an unconscionable $8.56/hour.

#1 and #4 are in shockingly bad faith.  #1 purports to restrict voting in FL to US citizens. Since that is actually already the law, the only point of the proposal is to confuse people into thinking that non-citizens currently vote. #4 wants to make the constitution more difficult to amend by requiring amendments to be approved in two successive general elections rather than one.

 #3 purports to be proposing “open primaries,” meaning unaffiliated voters can vote in primaries in contrast to the current “closed primary” system.  Open primaries of various types are very common in the US.  What the amendment is actually proposing is a “top-two” aka “jungle” primary in which the statewide primaries themselves become non-partisan races with the goal of producing two semi-finalists of any party who will compete head-to head in the general. Top-two primaries are much rarer at the state level in the US (only California and Washington use them right now) and seem more successful at hobbling political parties and reducing minority access than otherwise

Proponents believe that top-two primaries “moderate” the “extremes” of the two parties. The initiative is indeed being funded by a billionaire “Never Trumper” ex-Republican Mike Fernandez. The moderation argument would be appealing if there were more than one extremist major party in the US right now, but such does not seem to be the case.  It seems both vindictive and counter-productive to take down both parties as a means of punishing one party’s slide into fascism. 

#5 and #6 both concern property taxes.  The adjustments themselves are minor enough, and have broad support, but I follow the League of Women Voters in opposing setting tax rates in the Constitution.

  1. Citizenship:  NO
  2. Minimum Wage: YES
  3. Jungle Primary: NO
  4. Constitutional Amendments: NO
  5. Limitations on Homestead Tax Assessments: NO
  6. Surviving Military Spouse Property Tax Assessments: NO

County Referenda

Of the three county referenda, #1 and #2 appear to be obvious “yesses.” #1 establishes a county inspector general to monitor county operations.  This would seem useful in a county like ours with a long history of corruption and self-dealing among its officials. #2 provides that positions vacated by the “resign-to-run” provision would be filled during already-scheduled rather than special elections.  Special elections tend to be low turnout and expensive.  Resign-to-run itself is ridiculous and undemocratic, this provision would make it somewhat less so.

#3 concerns the county’s enactment of a new state constitutional amendment requiring that all counties convert the offices of Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, and Supervisor of Election to elected offices by 2024.  Two conservative members of the County Commission, Bovo and Sosa, propose a provision in the county charter to make these officially non-partisan positions, like the rest of the county offices.  This is a complicated call.  On the one hand, these should probably not be elected offices at all, and there should be nothing specifically partisan about things like voting, taxation, and policing. On the other hand, we know perfectly well that the republican party has staked out increasingly explicit positions against voting access, against fair and effective taxation, and in favor of police brutality.  Because it is important to know a candidate’s real positions on such essential matters, I recommend voting NO on issue #3.

  1. County Inspector General: YES
  2. Resign to Run/ Regular not Special Elections: YES
  3. Non-Partisan elections for Assorted County Offices: NO

Resources/ Other Trustworthy Sources

Leah Weston/Civic Culture

League of Women Voters

Miami-Dade Democratic Party

Michael Froomkin/Discourse.net

The Plantain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s