Sunday, August 19, 2018

Agonizing Over the Ballots

Our primary election is the last Tuesday of the month, the 28th, and "early voting" started yesterday.  The phone has been flooded with candidates calling and the postal mail flooded with campaign flyers.   There have been visitors knocking on the door, some of whom I've actually talked with.  This is likely to not be interesting except for people in this area, but some thoughts while trying to sort this out.

First off, the "marquis race" this year, the one has gathered the most press, is the race to unseat our Reliably Lefty Senator, Bill Nelson.  Running against him is current governor Rick "Voldemort" Scott.  Except that's not officially true, yet.  The candidates haven't been chosen.  Rick Scott is running in the primary against a candidate impossible to take seriously, a guy named Roque De La Fuente, or Rocky De La Fuente.  He's running for the Senate in nine different states, and I believe lives in San Diego, CA.

I'm still anti-Scott for what he did after the Parkland school shooting, pushing through almost the entire Democratic gun control agenda for them.  This may be a bad aspect of his one, strangely positive feature: Scott is an incredibly inept politician.  Being bad at politics has its good side, but his gaffs and missteps could fill a book. 

I probably won't vote for either of them.  If (when) it turns into the actual Bill Nelson/Rick Scott race I'll have to think again.  Nelson needs to be retired, I just don't know what to expect of Scott as a senator.  After a career as a CEO, followed by CEO of Florida, would he work in a "debating club" as the senate is often referred to?  What's the alternative?  Nelson will vote for any policy the Dems put forward and I can't recall the last "moderate" positions he took.  Does it matter?  Marginally.  Maybe.

The governor's race to replace Scott (Florida passed term limits years ago) is the next big one on the list.  After an endorsement from President Trump, US representative Ron DeSantis is leading agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam.  DeSantis' district is Florida 6, up in the vicinity of Daytona.  While my only knowledge/familiarity with the Agriculture department is as the agency that manages our concealed carry licenses, and that is run well, Putnam has run a mainly negative campaign against DeSantis, with radio ads accusing him of all sorts of things.

Other statewide offices I need to pay attention to are Putnam's replacement at the Dept. of Agriculture, Attorney General, and our State Representative.  The first requires a bit more research, the last two are brain-dead easy choices.

Possibly the nastiest race this year is for our County Commission seat.  The incumbent is being challenged by a CPA who was on the commission a few years ago and wants to get back.  She was famous for digging into the numbers deeply and was routinely voted down for being too sane on spending matters.  Too fiscally conservative for the others.  Between the two of them, they're probably responsible for the bulk of the mail we've gotten and have driven me to hate both of them.

The Song of the Republican Candidate has long been, "I'm pro second amendment", "I'm pro-life", and "my opponent is a career politician" - which is routinely thrown out once they're elected. This year they've added, "my opponent hates Trump", and most surprisingly (to me), "I'll do more to save the River".  (The Indian River Lagoon runs pretty much the entire length of the county, and quite a bit more.  It's in bad health in many areas, and the county passed a "please raise my sales tax" bill two years ago to fund a major river restoration program.)  Every candidate from the county commission and up sells that they're going to be the one to save the river.

Similarly, last week Bill Nelson and Rick Scott were blaming each other for allowing a bloom of red tide to remain on the SW coast of Florida (far from the Indian River).  I get a weekly email from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and while this particular bloom is longer lasting than many, red tide blooms are pretty normal things in the state.  I recall hearing about them 40 years ago. 

As always, these choices are the lesser of two (or more) evils.  I think I said once in this space that if you've never gone into an election and been in the situation where you don't like either candidate, and you find yourself voting for the "least disgusting" candidate instead of one you really like, welcome to your thirties!  That threshold was long, long ago for me. 


  1. As for the Red Tide, I would have to check the year, but about 10 years ago or so, I packed my bags and left FL for the summer, because the red tide made living on the water impossible. (The number of dead fish, washed up in the marina was incredible. The stench was impossible to believe.)

    1. I'm on the east coast and the algae that causes it always seemed to like something about the west coast better, but we had an outbreak here. I think it was in the mid-80s. It was in the Atlantic, not the lagoon. The algae itself irritates your throat and makes you cough.

  2. I un-registered several years ago. I have no faith that my vote would be recorded as cast. Even in Brevard County.

    Are you aware that, shortly after Viera opened, the Supervisor of Elections was having her employees "count" the ballots in their new office down there. The room where they were counting was separated from another room by a wall of windows, with venetian blinds that could be lowered and closed. In the outer room were "poll watchers" who were there to make sure the count was valid. One of those poll watchers noticed that some of those SoE employees were taking pencils and marking on the ballots in a way that could be construed as filling in "bubbles". She remarked that to the SoE official and Brevard Sheriff's Deputies who were in that same room, and she was told that they were merely "correcting" the ballots. After which the venetian blinds were promptly lowered and closed, and the poll watchers were escorted from the room.

    That is your Brevard County Elections Office. As well as your Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

    And for Zendo Deb, we have the same problem with seaweed in the Indian River when we get a sustained wind from the southeast for several days. It washes up on the west shore of the Indian River and rots. Let's just say that the odor is "memorable"...

    1. Are you aware that, shortly after Viera opened, the Supervisor of Elections was having her employees "count" the ballots in their new office down there. ...

      When was that?

    2. I'm no longer able to find it on the web. I believe it was early 90s shortly after the Viera entertainment became real. I think I saw it in the North Brevard weekly paper at the time. Gannett's Florida Toady would not have had any interest in covering it because they were neck deep in the Viera corruption. You do realize that they got a sweetheart deal for keeping quiet about what was going on? They sold their printing plant on Indian River Drive to the County for use as a library. The County oohed and aahed over the deal, which they proclaimed would give a good two story library near downtown Cocoa. What they failed to admit was that, while the building was indeed two stories, the second floor was open space - to accommodate the vertical presses sitting on the first floor - and it was not designed to support any weight above the ground floor. I don't remember what the County paid to make that building work, but Florida Toady got the $$$ they needed to establish their new empire on US 1 north of the Pineda Causway, and Viera got no "journalistic" investigation. Of course, some of the County Commissioners also got free lots out there as well. What a surprise that they voted in favor of letting it go through! Thad Altman was one of those.

      I do see that Judge Murphy has finally been brought to "justice" by the Florida Supreme Court, in spite of the inaction by BCSO and the local bar:

      Deputy Griffin's words ring hollow. He and at least one other BCSO officer saw Judge Murphy grab Mr. Weinstock and strike him when they were in the hallway outside the courtroom, before which time Mr. Weinstein had made no move to strike the fine Judge. Office Griffin then did separate them, making sure to keep Mr. Weinstein from hitting the fine Judge. But then corruption throughout Brevard government is nothing unusual, is it?

    3. Mark, you always talk like you think I'm some sort of apologist for the county, and I can't figure out why. I might have said one or two things that weren't derogatory, but that's all I can think of. I believe credit where credit is due and criticism where that's due.

      I bought that book ("Brevard Good Ole Boys") about corruption in the '90s and have tried to keep aware of what's going on. You've got to know that once corruption is exposed, they'll go back underground and come up with new ways. One book doesn't get rid of it.

      The reason I asked is that AKAIK that counting process was dropped by about '94. Might have been later, but not much later. I don't believe that what they did would be physically possible now, 20 years or more later.

      I would never be foolish enough to suggest corruption is impossible in any organization anywhere. Wherever a group of people is gathered, it can and does happen. It's stupid to think otherwise. It's found in all sports leagues, teams, colleges, thousands of companies, entire industries - need I go on?

      Since I do tend to vote in every election, and most of them aren't even remotely crowded, I've frequently observed how things work, and chatted with the volunteers. As I understand it, our votes are counted on site and the tallies communicated to the county as part of the poll closeout procedures. There won't be cars with boxes of ballots in them, as found in Al Franken's election, or that twit in Washington state, because there can't be. The counting doesn't work that way.

      I recall after the '00 election, when the press and a million lawyers were converging on Palm Beach county for their famous "hanging chad" recount, that someone at work published the results of our county's recount. The difference between the first time the optical scanners counted the votes and the second time the optical scanners counted the vote was zero. I think that's the way a recount should work.

      Credit where credit is due. From what I understand from reading some of Borepatch's links to Defcon, the system Brevard uses is capable of being remarkably secure, if everyone does their part.

    4. It definitely was not the current system. It was a paper ballot system in use BEFORE the "hanging chad" entertainment from Palm Beach County, and was shortly after they started moving the government seat from Titusville to Viera, in everything but name. According to Wikipedia, which should be reliable here, they broke ground for Viera on August 4, 1989, and the government buildings were among the first to go up. Which is the smart way to do things if one owns the right people and wants to convince others that their development is the future of the county.

  3. Putnam won't even speak to Florida Carry.