The millennial’s guide to voting in Southeast Florida’s August 30th primaries

TLDR: Just follow the step-by-step guide to get the information you need to vote in the Florida primaries. Keep reading if interested in how politics works and want to see Marco Rubio reach for water again.

How to use this guide if you care about water quality…

So here’s how you should use this guide because I have a full time job and therefore can’t spend all day researching.

  1. First, go here and put in the zip code for where you are registered to find out your district.
  2. Check out endorsements from your local newspaper. The TCPalm (covering Martin County, Indian River County, St. Lucie County, or Northern Palm Beach County) is not messing around with water quality. You can see the research they did on candidates here. The Sun Sentinel (for Broward and Palm Beach Counties) also is looking out for water quality. You can see their endorsements here. If you aren’t in one of these counties, look to your local newspapers.
  3. Next, compare and contrast your candidates with groups such as Florida Conservation Voters and Bullsugar.
  4. Then, find out where you can go vote TODAY (you have to be registered so hopefully you did that before August 1st).
  5. Finally, STOP CHECKING FACEBOOK AND GO VOTE!

There have been a number of studies on political corruption at the state level. One from a few years had Florida ranked as the most politically corrupt state in the nation. A more recent one said that legal political corruption was very common at the legislative level.

I know you are all blown away by this. BUT it doesn’t have to be this way because us humans LITERALLY made all this up. We just made up our rules and now we are learning that some of them might not be that smart. We can change these rules by electing representatives who will pass legislation that isn’t terrible. And, no, I’m not going to say anything about the president — I’m not even going to touch it. That’s just — no. I’m just — no. We’re just going to pretend for this blog post that we aren’t even voting for a president.

August 30th is Florida’s state primary day. I would argue that the primary voting day is even more important for voting in good legislators (not counting the president, here) than the November election day — especially for a state whose officials love money as much as Florida’s do. I argue this for two reasons. First, this primary dictates which U.S. House and Senate as well as Florida House and Senate candidates even get on the November ballot. If you have a corrupt democrat and a corrupt republican on the ballot, both of whom are likely going to make terrible policy decisions that will greatly affect your quality of life and the ability to raise children in a place that isn’t filled with garbage to benefit special interest at the expense of the rest of society, then it doesn’t matter what party they are affiliated with, does it? In a world where we are strongly encouraged to absolutely hate our political opponents and their party, what if we actually supported candidates from both parties who are smart, experienced, ethical, reasonable, and are not terribly corrupted by special interest. It would be almost like, if our politicians could advise one another with their varying degrees of expertise on different issues, they could actually work together.

I know. It’s crazy. Like Texas. According to Alcee Hastings.

Reason number 2 why the primaries are extra special — they are less well known. They aren’t talked about as much as the November ballot. So all those special interest groups trying to get after theirs — they are making sure their guys end up on the ballot, that way it doesn’t even matter if you vote democrat or republican. You think you’re making a difference voting in the general election because your team is looking out for you? You buying into the whole red vs. blue rhetoric convinced that if your party wins it is really going to fix your problems? Think again.

And the video above obviously leaves out the environment. If you live in Florida, the environment *should* be pretty important to people who like fishing and swimming and hanging out the beach and doing anything fun in Florida.

In some situations, maybe political corruption does not affect you directly. After all, there is a place for business to talk shop with politics. However, when special interests are directly at odds with things like, oh I don’t know, fish being alive and water being clean and generally less crap and urban sprawl everywhere — it does affect you.

SO, if you want your policy-makers to make good decisions, you better show up to the polls TODAY and vote for candidates that will make good decisions for you — the citizen. Don’t know why this is important? These people make and write bills that are directly related to how much blue-green algae there is on the coasts. Don’t know how bills are written? Please, allow the Florida senate to enlighten you with this illuminating and straightforward diagram #design #thinking #simplicity #communicationskillz

The point is that your legislators and senators at the state and federal level hold the keys to whether or not you have lots of fishes or no fishes, lots of algae or no algae, and lots of chemicals or no chemicals. The governor chooses to signs or not sign legislation into law at the state level and the president at the federal level.

About the August 30th Primaries

Federal and state primary candidates are on the August 30th ballot. The federal candidates will go to D.C. to represent you in the House of Representatives and the Senate to enact federal laws and the state candidates will represent you in Tallahassee in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate to enact Florida’s laws. Each federal and state congressional and senate districts will elect one Republican and one Democrat per district on the August 30th primaries. Each district’s winning Republican and Democrat candidates will then appear on the ballot in the November general election for you to choose one.

Florida has a closed primary (gonna emphasize that because it’s pretty impotant). Basically, you can only vote for the party for which you are registered in the primary election. So, if you are a registered republican, there may be more than one republican running for just one seat at the state or federal level, and you can only vote for which republican will get on the November ballot for the U.S. Federal and State level candidates. Same goes for registered democrats. There is one exception — if only candidates from one party are running (i.e. there are two republicans running for district 11, for example, and NO democrats), both republican and democrat voters can vote for their aboluste fav republican in the primary. This is actually kind of a bummer for places like Florida where a larger and larger number of republicans want to vote for environmentally-friendly policies because politicians will intentionally close these open primaries so they don’t have such stiff competition. Write-in candidates — random people who don’t plan on actually getting into office, like Donald Trump — can actually write in their names on the ballot on an opposing party platform to close the party. This then ensures that only registered party voters can vote for who ends up on the ballot in November. So, if you are a democrat who actually really likes someone like Jason Maughan, a fish-friendly republican running for Congressional district 27 (that’s for the U.S. House of Representatives, folks) in Lee County, Florida against Lizbeth Benacquisto, a non fish-friendly republican, and no democrats are running against him, then you could vote for Jason in the primary. But, someone from the Lizbeth Benacquisto camp might anticipate that someone like Maughan can cross the aisle and win you over, you dirty hippie, so Benacquisto might recruit a write-in candidate to run as a democrat, thereby closing the primary and taking away your chances of getting a reasonable and ethical person into congress. And that’s exactly what she admitted to doing this past July. Thus, the write-in loophole is criticized for pushing politics to the extremes and keeping 1.6 million voters from voting in the August primaries this year.

About Florida’s Governor Race

The governor has all these perks like signing bills into law and deciding who gets to run places like the South Florida Water Management District — those with a scientific background need not apply. He also got the final say in whatever happened to the Amendment 1 funds — funds for wildlife and conservation that Florida voters approved at over 75% in 2014. It is his job to enforce and enact environmental policy so that the Army Corps of Engineers isn’t put into a position where they have to choose discharging pollution to the estuaries for six months over protecting farms and human life — which is the position they were in. The governor is up for election every 4 years. Not until 2018. Hold on until then, hippies.

About Florida’s U.S. Senate race

Florida gets two senators. I hope I didn’t need to tell you that. They serve for six years.This year, Marco Rubio’s seat is up. Bill Nelson (D) is the other Florida senator. He isn’t up for re-election until 2020. Florida’s seat is a toss-up this year. Marco Rubio said he was gonna run then wasn’t gonna run. Then, Florida blew up in a fit of rage over the discharges and many are pretty unhappy with his history of political campaign contributions.

Republican candidates: Marco Rubio (incumbent — hope I didn’t need to tell you that either), Carlos Beruff, Ernie Rivera, Dwight Young.

Marco Rubio is well-known for taking special interest money that has had negative impacts on water quality — which is ironic…

Carols Beruff says on his website that he strongly in favor of not destroying all things that people like doing in Florida like swimming and fishing and things. Although, he has voted to fill in wetlands. If you like fishing, you need essential fish habitat like wetlands. Fish can’t just like move to another wetland apartment or whatever if they don’t like the wetland apartments they are currently living in. So, I dunno about Carlos Beruff, but he does seem to be more in tune with the recent environmental concerns in Florida from both sides. However, he wouldn’t sign the Now or Neverglades declaration, which, for many Floridians, has become a symbol of whether or not you can be trusted. If you want to gain the trust of voters who are concerned about blue-green aglae, you should probably be signing the declaration.

MOVING ON…

Democratic Candidates — Patrick Murphy, Alan Grayson, Pam Keith, Roque De La Fuente, Reginald Luster.

Both Murphy and Grayson are big fans of clean water. They are both coming from serving as representatives at the federal level. Grayson has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Murphy by Obama and Hillary Clinton — if any of that means anything to you. They both have pretty clean records (ha) in terms of environmental policy. Maybe you have concerns about other policy choices they have made concerning immigration, whether or not they listen to Obama’s spotify playlist, or if they have their own email server. This is primarily an environmental blog and I have a full time job, so, we’re gonna focus on environmental policy. Sorry to disappoint. Start your own blog.

About Florida’s U.S. House of Representatives Race

Florida has 27 congressional districts which elect one representative to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives at the Federal level. Congressional representatives serve two year terms. That means every single congressional seat is up for grabs! Too many candidates to discuss each one — check out resources from the above step-by-step guide!

About Florida’s State Senate

Florida has 40 districts for the state senate. Each district votes for one senator that serves a four year term at the state level. They get paid something like $30k and people like me give them a hard time about their decision-making on fairly regular basis. Sounds like a pretty crappy job. Too many candidates to discuss each one — check out resources from the above step-by-step guide!

About Florida’s State House of Representatives

There are 120 districts for the Florida State House of Representatives. Each district elects one house representative. Representatives serve two-year terms and are limited to four terms. They also make something like $30,ooo. They also get a lot of heat. Every single one of these seats is also up for grabs. Too many candidates to discuss each one — check out resources from the above step-by-step guide!

About Florida’s County Commissioners Race

County Commissioners are responsible for passing local legislation within counties, which can include administering local taxes and services such as prisons and courts, public health, property registration, public works, and environmental policy at the county level. See information about Palm Beach County’s Comissioners here.

About Florida’s City Councils

The city councils operate at an even smaller level than the county commissioners and, you guessed it, they pass legislation at the city level.

Vote YES on Amendment 4 for Solar

On August 30th, an amendment which would reduce the tax cost of solar panels will be on the ballot. The hope from environmental groups is that this reduced tax will encourage big box stores to put solar panels on their roofs in the sunshine state. Read more here.

While we are on the subject, there was something very interesting about Florida’s diagram attempting to illustrate how a bill gets turned into a law. If you even made it through the first picture, it said that a bill can be proposed by a legislator, a group, or a citizen. Guess what, folks — we can write our own damn policy if we feel like it. I’m actually going to start experimenting with this writing-our-own-policy thing. If you want to experiment with writing your own policy with me, please email me at kellygarvy@gmail.com.