The Long-Winded Florida Ballot

28 Oct

florida-constitutional-amendments-on-2012-general-election-ballot_mediumEarly voting has begun in Florida, but not as early as in previous election. “This election cycle, the early voting period in Florida will only be eight days, rather than the usual fourteen, which increases the candidates’ urgency to reach out to voters there.” (via IVN)

Florida is again distinguishing itself in 2012 for a ballot that takes, according to The Guardian, as long as 30 minutes to complete. Having completed and sent in my absentee ballot already, I can testify to how laborious the process of reading eleven proposed amendments was. And, worse, after reading each one, it was clear the amendments, placed a the end of a full ballot of contests that already made it interminable, fit together like a juggernaut intended to prompt voters just to vote “Yes” and save themselves the trouble of reading them.

Besides electing the president, members of the US Congress and the Florida legislature, many voters in the state are choosing local councils, sheriffs and other officials.

They are also being asked to decide on proposed changes to Florida’s state constitution. First on the list is a measure designed to block Obama’s healthcare reforms by prohibiting laws that compel individuals to buy medical insurance – a key part of the president’s legislation.

(…)

Legislators have also placed an amendment on the ballot that would exempt abortion-related matters from the state’s privacy laws.

The measure comes after Florida courts blocked the legislatures attempts to pass laws limiting access to abortion, citing the state’s constitutional protections of privacy. The proposed change also bars state funds from paying for health insurance that includes abortion coverage.

Other constitutional amendments on the ballot include a proposal by the Republican-controlled Florida legislature to curb the power of the state supreme court which conservatives have frequently criticised as too liberal in its judgments.

These seemingly down-ballot distractions are the real battleground on the Florida ballot, as are similar measures in other states, like a same-sex marriage amendment in Maryland. Other measures on the Florida ballot are “starve-the-beast” cudgels designed to deprive local governments of tax revenue through tax exemptions. Conservatives are displaying an acute cynicism about politics through this tactical stunt. Progressives need to take notice and put proposals, like campaign finance reform, mortgage resolution, or bank reform front and center on the next ballot.

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