For the good and bad, gratitude
I stood waiting, with my wife and hundreds of others, to cast my early vote this past Saturday. Minutes became hours, and at some point I realized that it's almost that time of the year for us to give thanks. So here are my thanks.
Thank you, Florida Legislature, for unloading 11 superfluous and confusing amendments onto your voters. Attempting to be a responsible voter, I thoroughly enjoyed the long hours I spent poring over pages of legalese almost as much as the challenge of digging through mounds of super PAC-funded propaganda in search of those pesky, elusive facts.
Thank you, Tampa Bay Times. Your online ballot tool trimmed many hours off of my research.
Thank you, Jessica Ehrlich, for showing up at the line to shake everyone's hand and thank them for coming out, regardless of what their T-shirt said.
Thank you, Rick Scott, for your refusal to extend early voting. The two hours I spent waiting to vote gave me plenty of opportunity to think about how thankful I'll be to see your name on the ballot the next time I stand in this line. Truly, from the bottom of my sore feet, I thank you.
Thank you, Charlie Justice, for handing out those Cuban sandwiches as we suffered the long wait. It was a real treat.
But most of all, thank you to my fellow voters. You are all a reminder that the inconvenience of casting an informed vote is nothing compared to the price our country has paid for our right to do so.
Jeff Mathers, St. Petersburg
An imperfect democracy
When the popular vote is secondary to the electoral vote, how does that serve our democracy? When the Electoral College forces presidential candidates to campaign more frequently in a few states, how does that serve our democracy? When the Commission on Presidential Debates, made up of one Democrat and one Republican, shut the door to other bona fide political parties, how does that serve our democracy? When money more than issues influences American voters, how does that serve our democracy?
Arthur Hebert, Largo
Doing the homework
I have been subscribing to your fine newspaper for as long as I have been in Florida — more than two decades. When elections roll around, I pay particular attention to whom you are endorsing and why. Your staff has always done its homework, and though we may part company on a few minor points, I am very appreciative of having your recommendations and taking my time to vote by mail. Thank you again for helping to educate me.
Harriet P. Sherwood, Clearwater
Money took over
Another presidential election has come and gone — along with billions of dollars spent on endless TV ads, flashy conventions and campaign appearances. It's an insult to American citizens — especially during these tough economic times. Let's stop this obscene waste of money.
You can make a difference. Contact your representatives and demand campaign spending reform before the next election. Spending limits need to be set. Any amount over that should be heavily taxed. The revenue could be used to help pay down the deficit or put into a charity pool.
Phyllis Houser, Riverview
The world keeps spinning
In the early 1970s while living in Colorado and involved with the Democratic Party, I was anxious about the election chances of Dick Lamm, who went on to be elected governor. This concern flowed over to my workplace and a very wise, and elderly, co-worker gave me some advice that I have carried with me ever since.
"Jim," he said, "whoever wins, the sun will rise on Wednesday." It was true, and although Lamm was elected governor, if his opponent were successful I'm positive that the sun would have risen on the day after the election.
James F. Donelon, Brooksville
System needs reform
Let me offer a simple electoral reform that will not require an amendment to the Constitution.
Electoral College votes should be allocated nationwide on the basis of the winner in each of the 435 congressional districts (plus the District of Columbia), plus two votes allocated to the statewide winner in each state.
Such a procedure would require a truly national campaign by the candidates and would more accurately reflect the voting strengths and weakness of the candidates. It would also allow candidates other than those of the two major parties a more level playing field and would give the voters a viable option if they are dissatisfied with either of the candidates of the major parties. For all practical purposes such a system would still result in the election of a candidate from one of the two major parties because of their access to the mother's milk of politics — money.
Now is the time, not on the eve of the 2016 election, for the state legislatures to implement such a system. The residents of Florida should demand that their representatives in the state capital put this matter at the top of the agenda.
Robert W. Schultz, St. Petersburg