Local democratic party chair weighs in on closed primaries

Hand of a person casting a ballot at a polling station during voting.

Home » Politics
Posted February 2, 2023 |

The Ocala Gazette asked the local democratic party chairperson, Diana Williams, to weigh in on how the write-in candidate loophole is used to close elections. This is what she wrote us back:

The fact that Florida is a closed primary state (one of 13 plus Washington, D.C.) has given what seems like “unfair advantage” to the party in power. The Democratic Party is not in favor of a closed primary because it limits who can vote (our party promotes inclusion). Only the voters in the party have an opportunity to vote, thereby essentially allowing one party to choose the winner from their party.
What’s particularly interesting is that we have a huge contingency of No Party Affiliation (NPA) voters (almost 68,000) who often are not allowed to vote in the primary (unless there are non-partisan races such as the school board). That has got to be discouraging for NPAs!
With the Republican Party dominating the political scene in Marion County (and Florida, for that matter), and utilizing the write-in candidate strategy, this leaves both the Democrats AND the NPA voters unable to “select” their candidate, even if they wanted to vote for a Republican.
One wonders, then, whether our views are being represented or considered by our Republican representatives. Even the Republicans represent only about 47% of the voters in Marion County, but can easily dominate with the write-in candidate strategy.
What’s particularly frustrating is the write-in candidates name is not exposed on the ballot, their requirements to get on the ballot are minimal, and most do not even campaign. Do they file simply to skew the elections? Hat’s off to their shrewdness.
So then you say, how do we change it? There would need to be an amendment on the ballot and, at this point in time, the Republicans who are “running the show” have absolutely NO incentive to place an amendment on the ballot to change the status.
That is not to say the Democrats have not also used this strategy in the past, it is a game we all play. The Democrats simply need to have candidates on the ballot for every election, and it has been difficult to recruit candidates with less than 29% of the Marion County voters registered at Democrats. One cannot win a race with 29%, but surely at some point the Democratic candidates will appeal to a larger contingency as the Republican party becomes more extreme in their views.
The outcomes from the Republican dominance in the political arena has resulted in a concentration of power impacting decisions on growth management, water issues, school board policy (from library books to vouchers), voter rights, the criminal justice system and safety, tax laws, matters related to your health, insurance in general, and unsolved immigration issues.
What matters? EVERYTHING matters. Politics start in your own community, and it is my hope that parties will work together to solve issues for the best interest of “all the people,” not just their circle.

—Diana Williams, Chair DEC Marion Dems

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