Dear Florida Democrats: Stop taking Latinos for granted

Election Day has come and gone and in the GOP mostly prevailed in Florida with just two exceptions in the U.S. House of Representatives. Governor Rick Scott edged out U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by just over 10,000 votes after the recount fiasco came to an end with a bitter concession from Nelson.

One glaring number I am looking at after this defeat is Nelson’s Exit Poll with Latinos compared to Scott.

Nelson won 54% of Latinos, but Scott was still able to pull 45% of them in an environment where the President of the United States is highly unpopular with the demographic.

To compare: Hillary Clinton won 62% of Latinos in 2016 compared to 35% for Donald Trump and even Marco Rubio failed to win the Latino vote by a slim margin that year against a fairly weak opponent (and he is Latino himself).

Nelson also underperformed the national Democrats numbers with Latinos which was 69-29.

Cuban-Americans who are mostly Republican can be counted for part of this. However, warning sirens have been up since at least June 2018 that Bill Nelson needed to connect more with Latinos.

Rick Scott took care to include messaging in Spanish, hire specialists, and to try and chip away from Nelson however he could. He had a Spanish website up and running before Nelson and Spanish ads running ahead of him. He ran to setup help centers for Puerto Ricans arriving in the state from Hurricane Maria. Why wouldn’t a Democrat try and do this first?

It should have been a cakewalk with this demographic.

It is true that Scott had a huge fundraising advantage initially against Nelson, but there were plenty of ways Nelson could have changed that by more active in the communities around him.

Nelson did improve incredibly with Latinos compared to his numbers June (most likely because of the President’s unpopularity with the group and some attack ads), but it was not enough. Scott was up in polls as recently as August of this year.

When will Democrats learn that Latinos are a community that needs to be engaged with every year and not just when you need their votes?  Bill Nelson was in office for 18 years, but still didn’t have a connection to these communities until this year. Huge mistake.

Those 10,000 votes were probably sitting inside of that missed opportunity.

Hopefully the next candidate to run in Florida will think about connecting with Latinos before they need their vote instead of when they notice they are in trouble and need our vote.

We live here every year not just during election year.

WTF: Welcome to Florida – Election Boondoggle

I was thinking about using Vote-By-Mail this year to vote in Florida…

However, I started to get apprehensive and changed my mind when I read an ACLU report that Vote-By-Mail ballots have a higher rejection rate than votes cast at precincts on Election Day and through Early Voting. To make matters worse, younger people and minorities seem to be statistically more likely to be rejected.

After seeing the disaster that is the current Florida election recount, I am very happy that I shredded my Vote-By-Mail ballot and decided to Early Vote in person at the polls.

The amount of time it simply took the Supervisor of Elections to mail my ballot to my house would have made it likely that my ballot would have ended up trapped in one of those mail facilities as reported by Miami New Times, never to be counted.

This happens every year to thousands of ballots because Florida does not count the postmark date, but all ballots must arrive to the Supervisor of Elections by Election Day unless you are active military or overseas.

With margins as tight as they are this year (currently Rick Scott leads Bill Nelson by around 12,000 ballots for U.S. Senator and Nikki Fried leads for Commissioner of Agriculture by around 3,000 votes) – one would think the state would prioritize actually counting ballots and think about the voices of the voters.

That isn’t what is happening here though. Lawyers and politicians (including Governor Rick Scott) from the Republican Party are screaming that there is “voter fraud” with no evidence while groups sue each other like crazy in a panic.

This has once again made Florida the laughing stock of the rest of the United States. We might not have a clear winner until December after all the lawsuits are done.

Where is the leadership?

Arizona calmly counted their votes and aimed to have a transparent process as written above by Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey, but can anyone say that has occurred here in Florida?

Florida should make it easier for people to vote and it is now clear that there are numerous problems that make voting both difficult and hard to track in our counties. Watching the recount machines break is not too inspiring. Not to mention some colorful bending of the law.

If the system actually cared about hearing out the voters, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Do better Florida.