EDITORIAL: Not voting in primary elections is risky and irresponsible

EDITORIAL: Voting the antidote to immigration fear-mongers

South Florida is currently in primary election mode. Although the official Primary Election date is August 28, voting has already commenced through absentee and  mail-in votes. In some counties early voting begin on August 13, and others August 18.

Unfortunately, in past election cycles, voters have tended to shy away from voting in primary elections. The reasons include either not really understanding the purpose of primary election, not taking the responsibility to vote, or not understanding one’s voting status to vote in these elections.

Essentially nomination elections

Primary elections are essentially nomination elections. Voters are being asked to nominate a Republican, or a Democratic candidate from other candidates representing each party to advance to general election on November 6. In some elections, like those for circuit and county court judges, and county school board members, voters nominate or elect candidates they think most suitable but not along party lines.

The reason why primary elections are so important, and shouldn’t be disregarded is that very often candidates whom voters take for granted will be on a general election ballot, fail to be nominated to advance because enough voters didn’t show up to nominate that candidate. In the past, there have been candidates with excellent potential for holding elected office who failed to make it to the general elections because his/her supporters failed to turn out at required primary election.

Can only vote on party registration

Most importantly, while in general elections voters registered either Democrat or Republican can vote for candidates affiliated to any political party this isn’t possible in primary elections. Democrats can only vote for candidates representing the Democratic party and Republicans for candidates representing that party. Voters who are registered without no party affiliation, or NPA cannot vote in primary elections, although they can in general elections. Every time there’s a primary election voters are advised regarding this regulation. Nonetheless,  voters who are NPA registered turn up to vote to be disappointed they cannot.

Voters continue to act irresponsibly

Despite years of persistent effort since the Caribbean- American population began expanding in South Florida in the 1970s, it’s still taking yeoman efforts to get Caribbean -Americans to fully understand their responsibility as voters.  

It continues to be puzzling to understand how people who came to America to seek an improved standard of living for themselves and their children, take electing officials who could meet their objectives so lightly and irresponsibly.

Some people are either not sufficiently political aware, or don’t understand the America political system, but most are plain irresponsible and nonchalant about their responsibility as American citizens. But, some who have been living in the US for well past the required 5 years to qualify to apply for citizenship, haven’t even bothered applying. There are also those who having gained the coveted citizenship who haven’t bothered to register to vote.

It’s also puzzling that some Caribbean-Americans who express active interest in elections in the South Florida region, are not eligible to vote, notwithstanding being  qualified to become ether citizens or registered voters. It really make no sense.

It’s no secret that Caribbean-Americans lean heavily towards the Democratic Party. However, despite aggressive campaigning to get Caribbean-Americans to vote in elections, there haven’t been enough votes to elect past candidates thought to be “sure things.”

In 2008, Democrat Alex Sink lost the Florida governor race to Republican Rick Scott, as did Democrat Charlie Crist in 2012. It’s not inconceivable that a few more thousand Caribbean-American votes in South and Central Florida could have elected either Sink or Crist.

Could Hillary Clinton have won Florida in the 2016 general election if more Caribbean and African American voters have voted across the state? Many analysts think she could have.

Blatantly irresponsible and selfish

It’s blatantly irresponsible and selfish for voters who can vote but refuse to for no justifiable reason, to join in criticizing elected officials who enforce policies and legislation not in the interest of the community. If the Caribbean-American community wants to have collective improvement in its standard of living the community must standing together as a powerful voting block in every election, primary or general.

There are voters who still aren’t taking the 2018 primary elections seriously and may not be planning on voting. There’s still some 19 days to August 28, enough time for them to be convinced to act responsibly and vote to ensure credible candidates are nominated to advance to the general elections.

These primary elections are the most important in sometime. They offer a chance to elect officials who respect the Caribbean-American community and provide rights due to them as American citizens. Political change is critically needed in Florida and America. Every Caribbean-American vote can help in making this change possible. Be responsible. VOTE!

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