This is one of the most important and consequential elections of our lifetimes. We have an opportunity to profoundly change the direction of our country and install new leadership that can unite Americans and steer us toward a much better future. Donald Trump and his Republican enablers have shown that they are unfit to govern or lead. Our country is sicker, poorer, and more divided due to their failures. I encourage everyone to please make a special effort to vote this election cycle.
A note on voting: this year, everyone is obviously extra concerned about their vote being counted. Some general advice on voting.
1. VOTE BY MAIL
Floridians have been voting by mail for a long time and it is generally successful. I will be voting by mail. To vote by mail correctly, however, please carefully review all of the instructions and don't make any mistakes. The official Miami-Dade County Vote By Mail page is here: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1512065909614490
Important Tips on Successful Voting By Mail:
- DO NOT WAIT TO VOTE. VOTE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Your vote will only be counted if it is completed and returned to the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections no later than 7:00 pm on November 3, 2020, Election Day.
- Carefully and completely fill in the oval next to your selections using only a black or blue pen. DO NOT make any other marks on your ballot.
- Place your ballot in the enclosed secrecy sleeve.
- Insert the secrecy sleeve into the enclosed mailing envelope addressed to the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections. DO NOT USE A DIFFERENT ENVELOPE.
- Seal the mailing envelope and completely fill out the Voter's Certificate on the back of the mailing envelope.
- YOU MUST SIGN YOUR NAME INSIDE THE RED SIGNATURE BOX ON THE BACK OF THE VOTER'S CERTIFICATE ENVELOPE. Of ballots cast using vote by mail, over 7 in 10 are rejected because they have NO signature. In addition, your signature MUST match the signature on record. If you need to update your signature, you can do it now by sending in this form: https://www.miamidade.gov/elections/library/forms/voter-registration-application.pdf
- After mailing your ballot, use the following link to track it and make sure it is accepted by the Supervisor of Elections: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser151187731708822
- If there is a problem with your ballot - for example, if you forget to sign the envelope, or the canvassing board determines there is no signature match - YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CURE THE PROBLEM using the following affidavit: https://www.miamidade.gov/elections/library/forms/vote-by-mail-ballot-signature-cure-affidavit-eng.pdf. Of course, the sooner you vote and track the status of your ballot, the sooner you will know if there is any issue, so VOTE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
- You can also DROP OFF your ballot instead of putting it into the mailbox. Voted vote-by-mail ballots are accepted at Early Voting sites and may be dropped off in a secure Ballot Drop Box. Voters can also drop off their vote-by-mail ballot at the following locations from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Monday 11/2/2020 and Election Day 11/3/2020:
- Elections Department
2700 NW 87th Ave., Doral, FL 33172
- North Dade Regional Library
2455 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens, FL 33056
- South Dade Regional Library
10750 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay, FL 33189
- Stephen P. Clark Government Center
111 NW 1st St., Miami, FL 33128
2. EARLY VOTING
Florida voters can also vote before Election Day. The early voting period runs from Monday, October 19, 2020 to Sunday, November 1, 2020. Sites are open from 7 am to 7 pm each day. A full list of early voting locations is available here: https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1511962555914873
- Remember, there are much fewer locations to vote early than there are on election day, so longs can be long, especially on weekends. I recommend going to vote right when the polls open on a weekday if you want to avoid long early voting lines.
- Make sure to bring a valid form of ID. Best type of Identification – Use if you have it:
PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT
JOSEPH R. BIDEN & KAMALA D. HARRIS
The Trump Administration is a cancer on our democracy that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Americans dead in a tragically mismanaged coronavirus response, a massive recession hurting the most vulnerable in our society, hundreds of right wing judges appointed to federal courts across the country who will set us back for a generation, immigrants and asylum seekers treated with barbarism and inhumanity, tax cuts that only benefitted the very rich and left most Americans behind, rollbacks of regulations and treaties that are resulting in more pollution and contributing to climate change, legal assaults on the rights of LGBTQ Americans in both the courts and administrative agencies, disdain and disregard for the social unrest that is roiling our nation due to police brutality and systemic racism, and a culture of corruption, dishonesty, greed, and hate. Worst of all, Trump has undermined our democratic institutions and set us on a dangerous path toward autocracy and permanent minority rule.
Joe Biden and Kalama Harris offer us the opportunity to turn the page on the divisive and destructive Trump presidency and renew our democracy. Under a Biden Administration, our government will once again be run by competent, caring people who believe in things like science, public service, and integrity. Biden will enact legislation to balance our tax code so the rich pay their fair share, make investments in health care (including a public option) and education, fight climate change, and so much more. President Biden will install diverse and progressive judges who will protect individual rights and liberties, appoint Cabinet secretaries who will work for the American people, not the narrow interests of the privileged few, and assure that the laws protecting minorities, the environment, civil rights, and so much more are faithfully executed. President Biden will let science lead the way on ending the pandemic and re-opening our economy. Most importantly, a Biden-Harris Administration will bring honor, empathy, compassion, and intelligence back to the Oval Office, and reject prejudice and hate. Our nation and the world will be safer, more secure, and stronger when President Biden takes office.
The choice is obvious and clear. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris must be the next President and Vice President of the United States.
REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, DISTRICT 27
Donna Shalala has done an excellent job in her first term as a Congresswoman. Although Democratic bills have been stymied in the Senate by Mitch McConnell, Donna has voted for a wide variety of measures intended to help Americans, especially during this coronavirus pandemic. In a Biden administration, she will be a strong vote in favor of expanded access to health care, climate change legislation, criminal justice reforms, investing in education, a better tax system that will have the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share, assistance to families devastated by the Trump recession, and so much more. Please give Donna Shalala your vote.
CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
For decades, Harvey Ruvin has done an excellent job leading this important office. We need a steady and experienced hand in this role and Harvey brings that in spades. There is no reason to remove this valuable public servant from this post.
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT
NO - CARLOS J. MUÑIZ
These judicial retention votes are usually meaningless because most voters vote to retain all judges regardless of their record. In fact, no judge has ever not been retained in one of these votes. Nevertheless, I am recommending Floridians vote no on retaining Judge Muñiz. In addition to ranking lowest in the Florida's Bar’s merit retention survey, Justice Muñiz is a political appointee who had no experience as a judge before being elevated by Governor DeSantis as a thank you for being a hard right political operative. He was chief of staff for the terrible Attorney General Pam Bondi (who fought for things like outlawing gay marriage in Florida and crushing efforts to place reasonable local restraints on guns). During this tenure, when it was revealed that Bondi decided not to pursue accusations that then-businessman Donald Trump was running a scam “university” or “institute” in Florida after Bondi took a $25,000 campaign check from Trump, Muñiz ran interference for Trump and Bondi, preparing the talking points for reporters regarding why this decision was justified. Trump University was ultimately shut down in civil lawsuits which exposed it is a fraudulent sham and Trump agreed to pay $25 million to victims. Trump rewarded Muñiz with a post at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
We need more experienced jurists on our State's highest court, not political operatives disguised in judge's robes. While political considerations are not normally a basis to vote yes or no on a political retention (see below for more on this), Justice Muñiz crosses the line. Vote No on Muñiz.
DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL
YES - MONICA GORDO
YES - ERIC WILLIAM HENDON
YES - FLEUR JEANNINE LOBREE
YES - THOMAS LOGUE
YES - BROWYN CATHERINE MILLER
These are all conservative judges. I think politics alone isn’t a reason not to retain a judge, so long as they are reasonable in their judgements. There is no indication, based on the Florida Bar's survey and discussions among members of the Bar, that any of these judges is not fulfilling their duties with professionalism and seriousness. For this reason, despite the fact that these judges do not share my judicial philosophy, I will be voting to retain them.
MIAMI DADE COUNTY MAYOR
DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA
For Miami-Dade County voters, this is an incredibly important election and the choice could not be more clear. Daniella Levine Cava, who has sat on the County Commission for years, has long been a champion for programs and laws intended to help the most vulnerable members of our community and protect our environment. As Mayor, Daniella will prioritize transparency and accountability in County government (taking on corruption), fight for paid family leave and relief for families hit hard by the Trump recession, invest in our infrastructure (included outdated water system and unreliable transit), expand affordable housing, and make Miami-Dade a national leader in the fight against climate change and mitigating its effects on our community. Her opponent is a hard right social conservative and enthusiastic Trump supporter. Let's put a progressive woman into this office and make history!
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER, DISTRICT 3
Miami-Dade County voters have an embarrassment of riches with these two candidates, either of whom will make a fine replacement for my dear friend and mentor, Dr. Martin Karp. While I greatly respect and admire Lucia Baez-Geller, my vote is for Miami Beach High School teacher Russ Rywell. I endorsed Russ back during the primary and you can go to my last blog post to read more about why. But I want to share a personal story which I think really demonstrates the type of person Russ is. My mother runs the Jewish Kosher Food Bank in North Miami Beach. Over the last several months, some candidates for local office have showed up to volunteer. When other candidate showed up, they came wearing their campaign tee shirt and tried to get good press. When Russ volunteered, he showed up in regular clothes, worked very hard loading boxes all day, and did nothing to publicize his service. He is the type of person who volunteers at a local Food Bank just because it is the right thing to do and a way to deeply connect with stakeholders in his community. We have an opportunity to put a person with great integrity, intelligence, and passion for education on this board. I am pleased to support Russ for this office.
Every election cycle, friends and family tell me that they are most confused by the Constitutional Amendments. I study these carefully and am always hesitant to vote yes on any amendments unless they are really important. My analysis of this year's measures is below. Please become informed about these amendments as they are actually very important.
NO. 1 - CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENT TO VOTE IN FLORIDA ELECTION
This is one of those ballot measures that seems reasonable at first. We all agree - only U.S. Citizens should vote. Here's the issue: that is already the law, both in Florida and the United States. Since that is already the case, why is this ballot measure being introduced? I will let the ACLU explain:
Ballot initiative #1, the so-called “Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections,” is cloaked in xenophobia and false patriotism. Rather than strengthen our democracy or protect our elections, it subverts and endangers the right of every citizen to vote. The amendment purports to limit voting to only U.S. citizens. However, federal and state law are already clear that voting rights are strictly for U.S. citizens, and there are no movements to expand voting rights to noncitizens in Florida. Instead, there have been persistent efforts to suppress voter registration and voting. One of the primary routes of such suppression has been through requiring increasingly costly and burdensome verification requirements, which could be enabled or justified by the passage of this amendment.
There is simply no reason for this amendment, which is why I am encouraging you to vote No.
NO. 2 - RAISING FLORIDA'S MINIMUM WAGE
This ballot measure will raise Florida's minimum wage -- currently $8.56 an hour -- to $10 an hour effective September 30, 2021, and then raise that wage by $1 an hour every September for the next five years, until September 26, 2027. By passing Amendment 2, Florida voters will provide a wage increase to one in four Florida workers, greatly reduce the number of households living in poverty, and begin to close paygaps experienced by women and people of color. Raising the minimum wage will also stimulate consumer spending, help businesses’ bottom lines, and grow the economy. A modest increase would improve worker productivity, and reduce employee turnover and absenteeism. It would also boost the overall economy by generating increased consumer demand. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do to make Florida a better place to live for all Floridians. Please vote yes on Amendment 2.
NO. 3 - ALL VOTERS VOTE IN PRIMARY ELECTIONS FOR STATE LEGISLATURE, GOVERNOR, AND CABINET
This is one of those rare amendments that is opposed by both the Democratic and Republican parties of Florida, as well as groups as disparate as ACLU and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. This amendment would have a negative impact on Black voters and effectively silence their voices. Additionally, it would create a "top-two" electoral system that could prevent voters in the general election from voting for members of their own party in state legislative, governor and cabinet races. The measure also raises First Amendment concerns by hindering political dissent and a political party's freedom of association, as well as the ability to select its candidates and messaging. If we want to get political independents involved in choosing candidates, an Open Primary system is the way to go--that is NOT what this is. Please vote no on Amendment 3.
NO. 4 - [DISINGENUOUSLY TITLED] VOTER APPROVAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
I vehemently oppose this terrible amendment which would make it much more difficulty, costly, and time-consuming to amend the Florida Constitution. Essentially, an amendment approved by Florida voters would not count unless it passed a second time in the next election. This amendment will greatly increase the difficulty of amending the constitution by any means. In particular, this will significantly limit citizens’ ability to engage in direct democracy, due to the increased cost and time required to bring citizen initiatives to the ballot. In other words, it negates the will of the people and requires them to try again a second time in order to get something passed. It is an effort to stifle the choices Floridians have made to improve our democracy.
NO. 5 - LIMITATIONS ON HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS
I agree with the Florida League of Women Voters: no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution. Taxes are something that should be done by legislation, not by amendments to the Florida Constitution. If the Florida Legislature wants to pass this law, it should do so in a regular session and have it signed by the Governor. I oppose using the Florida Constitution to change tax laws.
NO. 6 - AD VALOREM TAX DISCOUNT FOR SPOUSES OF CERTAIN DECEASED VETERANS WHO HAD PERMANENT, COMBAT RELATED DISABILITIES
I oppose for the same reason I oppose No. 5.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY REFERENDUMS
COUNTY REFERENDUM 1: Home Rule Charter Amendment Establishing Independent Inspector General
Checks and balances are important. With a budget of nine billion dollars, Miami-Dade and its administration should have the proper oversight to ensure that taxpayers' money is being spent properly. This should not be a partisan issue, we should all demand a well operated government. An independent inspector general will help end the culture of pay for play and corruption that has too long plagued our country. This is a no-brainer.
COUNTY REFERENDUM 2: Charter Amendment Regarding Elections to Fill Mayor or Commission Vacancies During Primary and General Elections
This amendment would require that when the Mayor or member of the County Commission resigns prospectively to run for another office the vacancy will be filled by election during the Primary and General Election rather than by appointment or by subsequent Special Election. I support this amendment because democracy works when voters know to participate, which is during Primary and General Elections. We should avoid special elections when possible, as they generally have lower voter turnout and incur additional costs to taxpayers.
COUNTY REFERENDUM 3: Nonpartisan Election of County Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector and Supervisor of Elections
This amendment would require, commencing with the qualifying for and holding of the General Election in 2024, that, contingent on a change to State law, the election of the Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, and Supervisor of Elections be conducted on a nonpartisan basis and that no ballot shall show the party designation of any candidate for those offices. I oppose this amendment. The elected offices mentioned in the referendum increasingly have great influence on day to day operations. Decisions often align with political parties, particularly in areas such as policing and elections. Republicans tend to want to stick to the status quo and protecting those in power, while Democrats push for social justice, progress, equity, technological advances, and protecting the vote of every adult citizen. It is important for voters to have clarity on who they are voting for.