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Party Affiliations On Local Ballots.

State Representative Randy Fine has introduced HB 531, which includes the following text:

The bill requires the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections to print party designations on the ballot for all candidates other than candidates for judicial and school board elections and provides that the members of any governmental unit in Brevard County that are designated for election in districts or other geographic designations may only be elected by qualified electors of that district or other geographical designation in the relevant primary, general, runoff, or other election.

HB 531 Brevard County Party Ballot

According to our reading of the bill, this would mean that the County Commissioners, water boards, local municipalities, etc., would have party designations on ballots following candidates names.

We have two concerns with this.

First, it is divisive. There is enough partisan politics in this country without adding more. Brevard County is a mostly Republican County and the measure will play into the hands of the lazy, uninformed voter who sees an party designation and votes along party lines rather than the merits of the person.

A good example of this is County Commissioner Curt Smith who ran as a member of the Republican Party and campaigned on a TEA Party affiliation. The TEA Party is against more taxes, smaller government, and a more efficient government and yet Smith has voted for increasing taxes, lack of transparency, and more government control.

Fine himself is another example. He runs as a Republican and yet seeks to deny people the right of free speech, raises taxes, seeks to control businesses, etc., all of which are against Republican ideals.

A few years ago a left leaning person in Cocoa Beach wrote an editorial that because of the Republican majority in Brevard County, Democrats should “shift” parties, run as Republicans, and then work to install left leaning Democratic values and plans.

Who would have guessed that politicians were being encouraged to lie to the people to get their vote?

Secondly, we are against State Representatives from Walton County, Monroe County, Manatee County, etc., telling us here in Brevard County how to run our elections. If Satellite Beach, or any municipality or Board wants to hold elections without party affiliations, let the people here in the County make that decision. Some towns in Brevard do require political affiliations be on the ballot, but that is a choice the voters and local officials made, not someone hundreds of miles away who has never heard of Indian Harbor Beach, West Melbourne, etc. We don’t need state control over local elections. We believe the people in the cities and towns of Brevard County are more than capable to decide how they want local elections to be run rather than the micromanaging of elections from Representatives who have never stepped foot in Brevard.


Fine’s proposal goes further:

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, for any government unit in Brevard County that provides for the election of members by district, ward, precinct, or other geographical designation, only those voters who are qualified electors of the district, ward, precinct, or other geographical designation are eligible to vote for that candidate in the relevant primary, general, runoff, or other election. It is the express intent of the Legislature for each member of the board of the Brevard County School District to be elected only by vote of the qualified electors in that member’s individual district and not by general vote of all electors in the county as required by s. 28 1001.361, Florida Statutes, or any successor statute.

HB 531 Bill Text 1.13.22

Florida Statute 1001.61 reads:

1001.361 Election of board by districtwide vote.
Notwithstanding any provision of local law or any county charter, the election of members of the district school board shall be by vote of the qualified electors of the entire district in a nonpartisan election as provided in chapter 105. Each candidate for district school board member shall, at the time she or he qualifies, be a resident of the district school board member residence area from which the candidate seeks election. Each candidate who qualifies to have her or his name placed on the ballot shall be listed according to the district school board member residence area in which she or he resides. Each qualified elector of the district shall be entitled to vote for one candidate from each district school board member residence area. The candidate from each district school board member residence area who receives the highest number of votes in the general election shall be elected to the district school board.

Upon first glance, it appears that the law requires school boards to be elected by a district wide vote. For Brevard County, that would mean that the five school board members would be elected county wide, with no “districts” as there are now.

Fine’s proposal seeks to make a special law for Brevard County and elect Board members by predefined residential areas like is the procedure now.

Whew.

Thank goodness we have someone like Fine looking out for us, eh?

Except for one problem……

The system Brevard uses of a County wide School board with members elected from resident areas within that district is already on the books:

1001.362 Alternate procedure for the election of district school board members to provide for single-member representation.—
(1) This section shall be known and may be referred to as “The School District Local Option Single-Member Representation Law of 1984.”
(2) District school board members shall be elected to office in accordance with the provisions of ss. 1001.36 and 1001.361, or as otherwise provided by law, unless a proposition calling for single-member representation within the residence areas of the district is submitted to and approved by a majority of the qualified electors voting on such proposition in the manner provided in subsection (3).
(a) If the district school board is composed of five members, such proposition shall provide that the five members shall reside one in each of five residence areas, the areas together covering the entire district and as nearly equal in population as practicable, pursuant to s. 1001.36, each of whom shall be elected only by the qualified electors who reside in the same residence area as the member. (emphasis ours)

We have no idea why Fine is proposing a bill that is already on the books and has been on the books for nearly forty years.

Didn’t someone tell him that this was on the books? Didn’t he read the statutes himself to make sure there was nothing wrong with what Brevard County has been doing for decades?

If Fine trying to pass a law based on his ignorance and inability to read the statutes himself?

Fine needs to retract this bill instead of wasting people’s time.

We have said this before and will say it again.

Brevard County deserves better.



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