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It seems that after every major election, Florida always finds a way to put itself in the midst of a voting scandal. From election fraud, recounts, and even a string of court battles, the swing state is always controversial. 

As the 2020 election approaches it is more important than ever for voters in Florida and across the nation to hold the state accountable in their local and national elections. Since 1964 every presidential candidate, aside from one, who has secured the majority vote in Florida has gone on to win the presidency. For being such an important state, it’s ironic how many election problems Florida continuously has. 

Florida’s changing demographics have shifted popular opinion in the state, making it hard to pinpoint exactly who will win the key battleground. According to the New York Times, it was predicted that Hillary Clinton had a 67 percent chance to win Florida’s electoral votes; Donald Trump ended up winning  the majority of votes by only 100,000 ballots. In a state with such close margins, every vote really does matter.

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The most noted election scandal to come out of Florida was during the election of 2000, which spurred nationwide confusion. After the race was called in favor of Democrat Al Gore, it became apparent that George Bush actually had the most Electoral College votes. The race was now back in question and the margin between Bush and Gore continued to close, requiring a recount. Immediately, oddities in Florida’s election came to light: confusing third-party ballots, punch-out ballots that had many design flaws, and overall inaccurate ballot counts. This resulted in a court decision that ultimately granted Bush the presidency, altering American history forever. 

Florida will be an extremely important state for the 2020 election. Incumbent Barack Obama had a clear win in 2012, while Trump barely won in 2016. Being born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I know just how divisive and important our politics are, but many do not understand just what makes elections in Florida so important. 

Politics in Florida are only getting more and more divisive. A large portion of our population is not originally from Florida or the south in general, bringing a wide range of beliefs to the state. As a local I divide Florida politics into four distinct groups: blue South Florida, the Republican panhandle (which is arguably more Alabama than Florida), blue Central Florida, and “no man’s land” in the areas between the major cities. 

One of the reasons Florida is seeing such a rise in liberal beliefs in its metropolitan areas is an influx of migrants from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. According to Florida’s Secretary of State, in 2019 there were about 107,600 newly registered Hispanic voters. As I mentioned previously, Donald Trump won Florida by only 100,000 votes in 2016-- in 2020, voter turnout will be key.

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Florida’s swing state status will make it a cornerstone of the 2020 election, but will they allow voting scandals to jeopardize the election? It is important that the integrity of Florida’s election be preserved. With a predicted increase in the use of mail-in-ballots, there may be opportunity for voter fraud and incorrect counts. Even though it may seem like Florida politics are something the rest of the nation should not meddle in, what goes on in the state will without a doubt impact every other American. It is important that as voters, we hold other states accountable for improper election practices. When one state jeopardizes democracy, its effects can be felt nationwide. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Photos: Her Campus Media

Mackenzie Riley

American '23

Mackenzie is a sophomore at American University studying SIS with a minor in Spanish. She loves writing poetry and exploring Washington DC in her free time, discovering new hidden gems. She enjoys writing about environmental sustainability, campus safety, and self care!
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