If you prefer to have the voters rather than the courts decide the presidential election, there is something you can do about it now.
Early voting begins Monday at many convenient locations in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Ballots you received in the mail will be accepted at all of them.
If you haven’t already voted, this is the opportunity.
In the history of our state, there has never been anything more urgent for you to do.
Florida has the power to determine not only who the president will be, but whether the American people or the courts will choose him.
Vote now, if you don’t want it going to the courts — or worse.
On two occasions, in 1876 and 2000, Florida’s disputed returns were instrumental in electing a president who lost the popular vote.
The stakes are even greater this time and some prospective scenarios are as bad or worse.
Never before has any candidate refused to commit to accepting the people’s verdict. Yet that is President Trump’s brazen strategy for an election that he expects — and deserves — to lose.
He is hoping for confusion and uncertainty, as the polls close on Nov. 3, to fuel election challenges that he could take to the Supreme Court, to partisan legislatures, or to Congress.
His relentless and unfounded attacks on mail voting are all about that.
So is the steamroller to have the Republican Senate confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the election.
That’s why Florida’s outcome must not be in doubt when the polls close Nov. 3. Massive early voting is the best defense, here and in every other state, against a presidential coup.
No Republican since Calvin Coolidge in 1924 has won the presidency without Florida’s electoral votes. It is virtually certain that without Florida in 2020, Trump loses.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, could win without Florida, like Bill Clinton in 1992 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.
But it is still vital for the Biden-Harris ticket to win Florida with a large enough margin as the polls close to put to rest any doubt over late-counted ballots.
A decisive Biden win in Florida, the largest swing state on the East Coast, would foretell the national outcome and foreclose any plausible strategy for delaying Florida’s certification past Dec. 11, when the electors must meet; Jan. 6, when the newly elected Congress convenes to count the votes; or even Jan. 20, when the Constitution specifies that one presidential term ends and another begins.
A massive turnout is particularly essential to discouraging the Republican-led Florida Legislature from any thoughts of discarding the returns and naming Florida’s electors directly. It almost did so in 2000 while Florida’s recount was being litigated. The House of Representatives voted to pre-empt the returns, but John McKay, the Senate president, staved off a vote in his chamber, waiting to see what the U.S. Supreme Court would do. After its 5-4 decision to halt the recount, George W. Bush became the president-elect by a margin in Florida of 537 votes.
Nationwide, the pattern in past elections is for relatively more Republicans than Democrats to vote on election day than by mail, creating situations where late-counted mail ballots appear to eat away at Republican victory margins. When that seemed to be happening in Florida two years ago, calling into temporary doubt the election of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott, Trump tweeted one of his tantrums:
“An honest vote count is no longer possible — ballots massively infected. Must go with election night.”
This year, however, nearly twice as many Florida Democrats as Republicans have already voted by mail, with the ratio nearly four to one in Broward and three to one in Palm Beach. That has raised some concerns that more Republicans than Democrats will vote early or on election day. Massive turnouts in Broward and Palm Beach, Florida’s two bluest counties, would put that issue to rest.
The importance of this election is the one point on which Trump and his fiercest critics agree. Not since the Civil War have the differences been so stark or the stakes so great.
We have previously stated our emphatic endorsement of the Biden-Harris ticket. The fundamental difference in this crisis is as defined recently by Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency.
“Biden is a good man,” he said. “Donald Trump is not.”
If there were no other issue, Trump’s contempt for the election process would disqualify him. As Steve Geller, Broward’s vice mayor and former Florida Senate Democratic leader has expressed it:
“If President Trump stays in office (note that I’m not saying gets re-elected, because if all votes are properly cast and counted, I’m confident that Biden is the winner), then Trump will be there because of methods that will essentially prove that America’s democracy has been corrupted into an authoritarian state.”
Early voting begins at 7 a.m. and concludes at 7 p.m. every day from Monday through Sunday, November 1.
There will be no early voting on Monday, Nov. 2.
In Broward, there will be mail ballot drop boxes at every early voting site, as well as 24-hour boxes at the county voting equipment center at the rear entrance to the Lauderhill Mall and on the west side of the Broward County Governmental Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Supervisor of Elections Pete Antonacci said there will be separate entrances for people bringing completed mail ballots so that they won’t have to share lines with those waiting to vote.
In Palm Beach County, there will be 18 early voting sites, each with a mobile van and drop boxes to receive mail ballots, as well as seven more locations with vans only and three 24-hour, video monitored drop-off boxes. Each early voting location will have a drop box outside the front entrance that will be manned by a poll worker, so voters with marked mail ballots won’t have to enter the building.
If you have an unfilled or unfilled mail ballot at home, it is a good idea to take it to one of the specified locations. That means it will be counted on or before Nov. 3 rather than possibly delivered too late by a U.S. Postal Service hobbled by political interference. If you want to vote by mail and haven’t applied for a ballot, time is dwindling.
As always, early voters should review a sample ballot first. You must also bring an ID with a photo and signature. Be sure to bring a face mask to comply with the county ordinance that requires the use of a mask in public.
Because of the coronavirus, early voting became one of the least popular options during the primaries. That won’t do for a general election. Long lines are likelier on election day than on all but the last one or two early election days.
Election officials have done virtually everything possible to make voting in person safe amidst the coronavirus epidemic. Now it is your turn to step up.
Vote. Early, please.
Editor’s note: You can find a list of all early voting sites in today’s Local section.
Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara, Dan Sweeney, Steve Bousquet and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.
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