At the end of a longish dinner with a couple we generally enjoy a couple of years ago, the woman, who is a vocal Republican said “I don’t understand how voter suppression works.” We had already paid the check, and I was pretty sure that this not understanding thing was intentional, so I let it slide. But honestly, in Florida, it is sometimes easy to be confused by this. The Florida ruling minority is sometimes very good at enforcing their one-party rule, and sometimes very dumb at it. It’s honestly amazing they’ve kept it going for 20-some odd years. Some examples:
If there aren’t candidates who look, or talk, or think like you, or care about issues that are important in your life, you are less likely to vote. Florida Republicans, who are vastly outnumbered by Democrats and No Party Affiliates (NPAs) combined are very good at making sure that most candidates are wealthy, white Republicans. How do they accomplish this?
- Florida, the third most populous state, has a part-time legislature that meets about 3 months a year.
- Florida Legislators make about $30K plus a stipend of $163/day for each day they spend in Tallahassee
- This means that they have to be professionals or business owners, or come from wealthy families (or marry into them) to even consider running for office
- They can’t be regular people like AOC who live off their legislative salary
- There are insane barriers to entering state and federal races. Florida filing fees are higher than any state except Arkansas.
- The requirements for the number of petitions a candidate must file in lieu of said filing fee are nuts, running into the thousands, rather than the hundreds most states require
- Florida Republicans will argue that in a State income tax-free environment, they need to raise revenue on fees. Okay, sure, but they don’t have to be the second-highest in the country.
- And there is no excuse for means-testing candidates for state and federal offices
- Gerrymandering is another method of suppressing candidates, and also voters, that the ruling minority is very adept at. Below is an image of the districts in NEFL, which start off in a pretty sensible west to east fashion from Pensacola.
As you can see, it looks as if FL CD 5 is performing an unnatural act on CD 4. It “grabs” the “urban core” out of CD 4, the City of Jacksonville (and we all know what “urban” is shorthand for, right?) and then shoots back west across the northern border of the state to Tallahassee, a two hour, deadly dull drive. It’s an oddly shaped, and totally counter-intuitive district. The net of it is that CD 4 contains the very Red Counties of Nassau and St. Johns and the Purple parts of Duval (Jacksonville). The Bluest parts of the City, all which overwhelmingly turned out for the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate in the 2018 primary and general, and for Biden in 2020, are in CD 5.
Other folks across the state could tell you similar stories. And we invite them to submit them in tweets, comments or submit a guest blog.
Again, part 1 of many about the many weird faces of voter suppression in Florida.