Tag: vote

It’s Time to Replace the Electoral College

Jack Shields | United States

The 2016 election was a showdown between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. The fact that the leader of the free world was going to be one of these individuals, both of whom were under FBI investigation, shows that our electoral system is in need of reform. Further compounding this need is the fact that Donald Trump received 2.8 million votes fewer than the loser, Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College is clearly a disaster which does not do an adequate job in achieving any of the noble goals presented by its supporters. However, the solution of going to a popular vote, by far the most popular idea, would be even worse. The Electoral College must be repealed and replaced with a ranked choice voting system, rather than relying on the popular vote.

The Failure of the Electoral College

The Electoral College was a disaster from the start. The system went unnoticed during the first two elections as George Washington was running, so it was really more of a formality than an actual election. Its flaws, however, became apparent in the election of 1796 between Federalist John Adams and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. At the time, the Electoral College operated under the rules prescribed in Article II Section 1 Clause 3, which gave each elector two votes for President. Whoever had the majority of votes became President, and whoever had the second most became Vice President. Adams won, becoming President, but rather than fellow Federalist, Thomas Pinckney, receiving the second most to become Vice President, Jefferson of the opposite party did. This made the Executive branch split ideologically for the only time in American history, causing tension and inefficiency. Problems continued in the election of 1800 when Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes and the outcome of the election went to the House of Representatives. It was a brutal political battle that took 35 deadlocked votes before Alexander Hamilton convinced a minority of Federalist Representatives to back Jefferson in the 36th vote, making him the third President of the United States (a decision that would help lead to Burr killing Hamilton in a duel). Both sides understood our electoral system was a mess, so to remedy this the Twelfth Amendment was ratified in 1804, making each elector now have only one vote for President and one for Vice President.

While certainly an improvement, ratifying Twelfth Amendment was like applying a band-aid when surgery is required. Many more problems have surfaced since regarding Presidential elections and more and more band-aids have been added.

With electoral votes being what matters and not the votes of the people, the right to vote in a Presidential election was not and is still not guaranteed. The Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments had to be ratified, along with the passage of countless laws, to at least clarify which characteristics can’t be used to prevent Americans from voting.

The Twenty-third Amendment was ratified in order to actually let American citizens in our country’s capital have any say in who would be running the nation. For 172 years they were spectators in their own country. Today, millions of Americans are unable to vote for who should be their Commander in Chief simply due to the fact they live in territories rather than states.

There have been five elections in which the winner of the popular vote was defeated. Additionally, small states are disproportionately represented in the Electoral College. Both of these are hailed by supporters of the Electoral College as its benefits. Small states should be represented and the tyranny of the majority should be kept at bay. The problem is that neither of those has really happened. When is the last time you saw a presidential candidate visit Wyoming or Vermont? Small states have not been represented, while swing states receive large amounts of media and campaign attention. Rather than a national election, the Presidential election is an election of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. This is not how it should be. While power should be decentralized and overall, states should have more powers and influence in the lives of the American people, when we are holding an election for the head of the national executive the entire nation should be involved. The idea that we need a system that checks the tyranny of the majority is absolutely true. The Electoral College just isn’t the way to do it. Checks and balances, a small list of enumerated federal powers, decentralization of power, and state legislatures picking Senators were effective ways to check the majority. We have abandoned many of these ideas as government has grown bigger while our rights have shrunk, and the Electoral College hasn’t been able to stop any of this. The way to change course and keep small states powerful and the tyranny of the majority in check is to stick to checks and balances and decentralization of power, not have a terrible electoral system where someone can become President with only 27% of the popular vote. We should keep powers limited to protect the states. We should keep the amount of positions people get to elect limited to check the tyranny of the majority. But once we’ve decided to allow the people to vote, as we should do when deciding who gets to be the powerful man in the world, we should treat it as any other vote: winning 51% of the vote means winning the election.

The final supposed benefit of the Electoral College was it would protect us from the ignorance of the masses. It did this through the Electors, which are in no way constitutionally bound to vote for who the people of their state picked, although many states have laws requiring them too. But has it at all checked the people’s ignorance? The reality TV star who cheated on his wife with a porn star is President right now. President Wilson (re-segregated the federal government), President Roosevelt (put Japanese people in camps and appointed a former KKK member to the Supreme Court), and President Johnson (helped filibuster civil rights legislation) all were elected without any opposition from Electors. In fact, the only time the Electors have had any significant impact was during the election of 1872 when the Democratic nominee for President, Horace Greeley, died after the popular vote but before the electors cast their votes, causing them to split their votes between four other Democrats. Just like the tyranny of the majority, the ignorance of the majority should not be checked by the way we hold our elections. The way to check it is to limit the power of the federal government and what positions we get to vote for.

With the Electoral College being the disaster it is, many have proposed we move to a popular vote. In this system, whichever candidate receives the most votes becomes the next President. But this cure is worse than the disease. There have been eight elections in which the winner won with a plurality of votes, and this system exasperates this problem. It requires there to always only be two candidates, stifling many viewpoints and competition. The clearest example is with Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Clinton won with an electoral landslide despite winning only 43.01% of the vote. This was because the third-party candidate, Ross Perot split President George H. W. Bush’s base. A Democrat won the election despite the fact that 56.36% of the electorate chose a conservative-leaning candidate. This is a problem that will continue to occur with a popular vote. A different solution is clearly needed.

Ranked Choice Voting

A Ranked Choice Voting System is the best way to elect the President. In this system, rather than picking just one candidate, a voter ranks his or her favorite candidate 1st, the second 2nd, and so on. If when the votes are tallied in the first round, none of the candidates received above 50% of the popular vote, then the candidate in last place is eliminated and the votes for those who voted for the now-eliminated candidate go to their highest ranked, non-eliminated choice. This process continues until one candidate has above 50% of the vote, making them the next President of the United States. President Bush would’ve been able to win in dominant fashion in the second round of the election under this system; giving the American people a President most closely aligned to the wishes of the electorate. That should be the most important goal of any electoral system, and none do it better than ranked choice voting.

While ensuring the majority of the American people actually voted for the next President is the most important goal, there are many other goals that are achieved by Ranked Choice Voting.

The candidates will be less radical. Primaries allow radical bases to select candidates not in line with mainstream America, causing most Americans to choose between the lesser of two evils as seen best by the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Under this system primaries are weakened and may even become totally irrelevant and eliminated as multiple people from each party would be able to run without destroying any chance of victory as with the elections of 1912 and 1992.

With more candidates being viable the American people will have more options and more opinions will be represented. With votes transferring, the idea of ‘wasting your vote’ will be a thing of the past. All voters will get to vote with their conscience for the candidate most representative of their values without having to pick the least worst option.

The presidential candidates will have to campaign everywhere. Democrats in Texas and Republicans in California will finally have their votes matter and the need to campaign nationwide rather than Florida-wide will be the new path to victory.

Millions of American citizens living in territories such as Puerto Rico will be able to have a say in who their President will be. All Americans will have their votes matter now that we will have a system which ensures citizens do get to vote for President and there is no Elector who can go against the will of the people.

Lastly, this system has the potential to make elections more civil and unifying, something badly needed in this country. Most Americans disapprove of negative campaign ads, but their use is increasing. It is much easier to prove someone else wrong than to prove yourself right. A ranked-choice system creates negative consequences for disparaging your opponent and incentives to be civil; voters aren’t just voting once, they are now ranking candidates, so every detail of a campaign matters. And while not everyone is going to make a candidate their first choice, the candidate will want them to rank him or her second. A voter is not likely to rank a candidate anywhere on their list if the candidate is in a calling the other candidate’s supporters deplorables who are racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic, and xenophobic. Candidates will now have to play nice if they hope to stand a chance should the election go to round two.

With an electoral system that has failed us from the beginning, many Americans are turning away from the Electoral College and looking for alternatives. While this is a necessary first step we must be careful not to stumble upon the first alternative and end up with an even worse electoral system. Ranked Choice Voting is by far the most efficient and beneficial system, making it the obvious choice for the Presidential electoral system of the future.

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Bad Legal Precedent Used to Challenge Maine Election Result

Jack Shields | United States

According to NPR, the incumbent Representative for Maine’s Second Congressional District, Bruce Poliquin (R), is attempting to claim victory through the courts in an election he clearly lost. Maine uses ranked choice voting for their U.S. House of Representatives elections. This means that instead of picking just one candidate, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If the first round is completed and no candidate has above 50% of the vote, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and those who voted for him have their votes go to their next ranked, non-eliminated choice. When the first round results were tallied, Poliquin was in first place with 46.2% of the vote, while his Democratic challenger, Jared Golden, trailed with 45.5% of the vote, and two independents; Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar carried 5.8% and 2.4% respectively.

In the second round, Bond and Hoar were eliminated and their votes were transferred to the voters’ second choices. The second round concluded with Golden earning a razor-thin victory over Poliquin: 50.53% to 49.47%. However, Poliquin is arguing that ranked choice voting is an unconstitutional violation of the ‘one person, one vote’ doctrine established in Baker v. Carr (1962). Even with the Carr ruling as precedent, Poliquin has no real chance or logic behind his Hail Mary lawsuit. However, the real issue is Carr in and of itself is an unconstitutional overreach by an activist court into the legislative and political domain, and should be overturned.

The issue in Carr was a requirement in Tennessee’s constitution requiring the reapportionment of seats in their state senate and general assembly every ten years starting in 1871. But when Charles W. Baker brought his suit to court, it had been over five decades since 1901 yet the state was still using the 1901 reapportionment law, despite population increases, thus severely over-representing rural districts.  Baker argued this made some people’s vote count more than others and was therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment. The Supreme Court agreed, declaring that the 14th amendment guarantees the ‘one person, one vote’ right where each vote should hold as much weight as any other vote. This precedent is unfortunately still in force today.

Even under the Carr precedent, Poliquin has no real case. The Court ruled that each vote ought to carry equal weight. The Court did not rule that votes cannot be transferred. Just because the vote was now for Golden rather than Bond or Hoar, doesn’t mean it was somehow magically more or less important. One vote equals one vote regardless of whom the vote was for. The only serious way he could argue the votes in the first round were weighed differently than votes in the second round is the fact that according to Ballotpedia, there were 284,455 votes in the first round and 275,557 votes in the second round. This may be because some people didn’t put a second choice when they voted, and therefore their vote was not transferred into the second round. While mathematically this means a vote in the second round held roughly 3.2% more weight of the total vote than in the first round, this is not actually evidence that it was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. No voter was prohibited from selecting a second choice, which would deny them equal protection under the law. Those who did not select a second choice candidate chose not to on their own accord. In some cases, not voting is just as much as a vote as actually voting in terms of the effects it has on the election. This does not mean that it unconstitutionally swings the election. There is no legitimate legal argument for Poliquin. Golden is the new representative for the people of Maine’s Second District.

When examining the actual Carr decision, it is clear the Court overstepped its boundaries. The lower courts determined that because this was an issue of a state constitution, a state reapportionment law, and a state legislature, this was not an issue which the federal courts had any jurisdiction. But because the Supreme Court determined there was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Federal Constitution, the federal courts had jurisdiction. This would be true if there was a violation of the Federal Constitution, but it is clear there is no violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The 14th amendment was ratified in 1868 and was specifically designed to protect the rights of newly freed slaves. The point of the Equal Protection Clause was so, for example, a state could not demand that a black man pay $100 in taxes while a white man only had to pay $50 in taxes. Laws now had to be equally applied without race-based, and later sex-based discrimination. However, this has nothing to do with elections and the weight of a vote. Both then and now, the President is elected through the Electoral College, which goes completely against the idea of ‘one man, one vote.’ As reported by the Huffington Post, in the 2016 election a vote in Wyoming held 3.6 times more weight than a vote in California. The 14th amendment did not repeal the Electoral College. In fact, it had so little to do with voting that the 15th amendment had to be passed in order to let the black men the 14th amendment was attempting to protect get to vote. The Equal Protection Clause had nothing to do with voting, meaning it is in no way an adequate excuse for federal overreach into a state issue; making this is an unconstitutional precedent that ought to be overturned at the next available opportunity.

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The Libertarian Party: A History From Hospers to Johnson

John Keller | United States

The Libertarian Party

John Hospers (1918-2011) was the first Libertarian presidential candidate. He defined Liberty best in 1971, during his campaign for President in 1972, that “Liberty is the absence of coercion by other human beings.” The Libertarian Party began forming on July 17, 1971, with a meeting of David Nolan, John Hospers, Ron Paul, Tonie Nathan, Edward Crane, and others. The new political party was officially announced January 31, 1972. The first platform of the party focused on ensuring a gold-backed currency and a return to the classical liberal thoughts held by many of the Founding Fathers of America. The Libertarian Party’s goal was, and is, to shrink government and return rights and liberty to the citizens of the United States of America.

“The only proper role of government, according to libertarians, is that of the protector of the citizen against aggression by other individuals. The government, of course, should never initiate aggression; its proper role is as the embodiment of the retaliatory use of force against anyone who initiates its use.” – Dr. John Hospers

A Brief Introduction to the Philosophy

The philosophy of libertarianism is rooted in texts from the Age of Enlightenment (1685-1815), such as the theories of John Locke (1632-1704), in his The Second Treatise of Civil Government, written in 1689 as well as the philosophies and writings of Thomas Paine (1737-1809), who wrote Common Sense in 1776.

In addition, the Libertarian Party has been influenced by many modern-day philosophers as well. The most notable of these philosophers is Ludwig von Mises (1891-1973) who wrote Human Action in 1949. His philosophies dominate the Libertarian Party’s economic platform, and his work was so influential the Mises Caucus formed within the party. After his death, the Mises Institute was founded in Auburn, Alabama in 1982 with the mission, “To advance the Misesian tradition of thought through the defense of the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive.”

History of the Libertarian Movement (1972-2000)

The Libertarian Party has historically been the strongest third party in the 20th century. In 1972, John Hospers received 3,674 votes. In 1996, the presidential ticket of Harry Browne and Jo Jorgensen received 485,759 votes.

As the presidential election began to get started in 1976 there were serious doubts in the minds of conservative voters on the integrity of the Republican Party following the Watergate Scandal in 1972. The Libertarian Party become a place to vent frustration with government, and with their message for smaller government and personal accountability attracted many new voters.

The 1976 presidential ticket consisted of former state representative of Vermont Roger MacBride for president and California lawyer David Bergland for vice president. His campaign focused on issues, such as ending the Federal Reserve and returning to a gold-backed currency, as well as non-interventionist foreign policy. Democratic nominee “Jimmy” Carter spoke of being an outsider “untainted” by the politics of Washington D.C. while Republican nominee Gerald Ford focused on his ability as the chief executive, relying on his incumbent status to help carry the election in his favor.

By the end of the campaign, Roger MacBride and David Bergland had won over 172,557 votes, almost 170,000 more votes than the first ticket just four years prior and having ballot access to thirty-two states.

In 1980 the Libertarian Party hoped to capitalize on the moment of the previous year and nominated Ed Clark, who had received almost 378,000 votes in his campaign for Governor of California in 1978, for the presidency. David Koch, a successful businessman and vice-president of Koch Industries. The election began heavily contested.

President Carter faced immense backlash for his foreign policy in the Middle East and many Americans had deemed it improper for an actor to be president. The Libertarian Party and the Libertarian presidential ticket was seen as a viable third option. Although Reagan won in an electoral landslide, the Libertarian ticket received almost one million (921,128) votes.

The Reagan Administration proved to be very popular, and in the 1984 election, it showed. Former vice presidential candidate, now presidential candidate, David Bergland was only able to generate a quarter million votes.

One of the most iconic, although not the most successful, presidential runs of the Libertarian Party took place in 1988. Former congressman Ron Paul of Texas received the nomination and Andre Marrou, a former member of the Alaska House of Representatives, was nominated as the vice presidential candidate. The campaign Ron Paul ran was described by one reporter as a “Kamikaze Campaign” for being so dedicated to the issues while he stood, according to the journalist, “as much chance as I” at becoming president. Ron Paul focused on non-interventionist foreign policy, ending the Federal Reserve, getting the government out of education, and focusing on returning the American dollar to the gold standard. On top of these key issues, former Congressman Ron Paul made a pillar of his campaign the War on Drugs.

Although unsuccessful, the Ron Paul for President Campaign raised the campaign standard and redefined the Libertarian Party, highlighting the power and ability of a grassroots campaign as he raised over $2 million in donations.

In 1992 Ron Paul’s former running mate, Andre Marrou, took the nomination and continued the message of Ron Paul, but faced limited success as Americans flocked to Ross Perot, an independent from Texas who attracted over 19,000,000 votes.

Following the success of Ross Perot, the Libertarian Party knew that large success against the two-party duopoly was possible. Harry Browne received the 1996 presidential nomination. As a veteran, he pressed Bob Dole for claiming “My generation won [World War Two]” and his strong ties to the past and not to the future. When election time came he had attracted nearly half a million votes – losing votes to the popular Ross Perot who gained over 8,000,000 votes for the Reform Party.

In 2000, Harry Browne again took the nomination and ran a similar campaign to the campaign run in 1996. He won nearly the same number of votes but served a larger role.

In the controversy over the election in Florida, where Ralph Nader arguably detracted enough support from Al Gore to allow George W. Bush to win the state, the story in the state of Washington is often forgotten.

Harry Brown’s campaign attracted enough votes, alongside Pat Buchanan’s campaign for president, to swing the state away from George W. Bush and in Al Gore’s favor, ensuring the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, Al Gore, took the state, winning him an additional 11 electoral votes.

As the century turned and George W. Bush took the White House, the Libertarian Party began to go through a reformation process.

New Age Libertarianism (2004-2012)

In the twenty-first century, the Libertarian Party began to reform its priorities in its platform. The reformation became highlighted in the 2004 Libertarian National Convention as it became the most contested presidential primary in the thirty-two-year history of the Libertarian Party.

The three leading candidates were Aaron Russo, Gary Nolan, and Michael Badnarik. Aaron Russo was leading in pre-convention polls for the nomination. He was running his campaign on criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and ending the War on Drugs.

Gary Nolan, polling second, focused his campaign on Anti-Bush doctrine. He planned to focus campaigning on his home state Ohio with the goal of swinging the state away from Bush and winning the state for the Libertarian Party. His platform consisted of repealing the USA PATRIOT Act, ending the war in the Middle East and bringing home the troops, while rallying against the income tax.

Going into the convention Michael Badnarik was predicted the least likely of the three major candidates to win the nomination. His campaign was built on the principles of laissez-faire economics.

With Aaron Russo in the lead, it seemed clear that the Libertarian Party was beginning to switch away from the Ron Paul Era of economic focus and begin focusing on social issues, with economic policy on the back burner; however, a surprise came at the 2004 Libertarian National Convention.

On the first ballot, the vote counts for the nomination were all within twelve votes of each other; with Russo gaining 258, Badnarik 256, and Nolan 246. On the second nomination ballet, Nolan was eliminated and surprisingly endorsed Badnarik. In the final vote for the nomination, Badnarik took the nomination 417 votes to 348 for Russo, with six delegates voting “None of the Above”.

Although the focus on economics continued in this election cycle, a focus on social issues was beginning to grow within the party. Badnarik began his run immediately, trying to build off the momentum of the convention, but he struggled at first getting the Libertarian Party on board, especially those who had supported Aaron Russo who felt “cheated” at the convention.

By election day, the highest poll for the Libertarian ticket was at 5%, a poll conducted in New Mexico. On election day Badnarik, who held high hopes, pulled in about 400,000 votes, only about 0.32%. Following the results, he pursued, with support from Green Party candidate David Cobb, a recount in the state of Ohio, which President George W. Bush had won by about 100,000 votes. If the recount had been “successful” then Ohio would have swung to be a blue state, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) would have been president.

In 2008 the election became key as there was a rejection of the Bush intervention policies. Former congressman Bob Barr was nominated by the Libertarian Party to run for president. He held high hopes going into the general election as many conservatives were growing tired of the pro-war leanings of the Republican Party, and the dedicated hawk candidate John McCain (R-AZ). However, Barack Obama (D-IL) came out as a strong anti-war candidate and supported social liberty and Barr began losing support. He tried to shift focus towards an economic policy where he believed he held the edge over the other candidates, but the American people were more focused on issues regarding foreign policy, and Barr was only able to gain a half million votes come election day. As the election cycle wore down the Libertarian Party began to strategize for 2012.

Libertarianism in the Modern Age (2012-Present)

In 2012 the upcoming nomination for president at the Libertarian National Convention was projected to be a toss-up between former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Libertarian Party Vice Chair R. Lee Wrights. Going into the convention, Gary Johnson was being seen as an unlikely choice. He was a former two-term Republican governor in the state of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He had joined the Libertarian Party December 2011, just six months before the national convention after he failed to gain any traction in the Republican New Hampshire primary. On the other hand, R. Lee Wrights had been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2000 and had served for two years, prior to the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, as Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party (2004-2006).

Just as in 2004, the convention turned out to be an upset. Gary Johnson, on his platform of fiscal responsibility and social equality, won a surprising landslide victory at the convention, receiving 419 delegates (70.4%). Jim Gray, a California judge, received the nomination for vice president. The pro-immigration and anti-intervention ticket won considerable support as anti-war Republicans who could not support Mitt Romney voted Libertarian. Gary Johnson, on election day, made Libertarian Party history by receiving 1,275,971 votes.

Gary Johnson continued to fight for the Libertarian message and in 2016 sought to be renominated for the Libertarian presidential ticket. He was renominated in a landslide, gaining more than 30% more delegates than the runner-up Austin Petersen. Bill Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, was selected as the vice presidential nominee.

The 2016 election proved to be pivotal. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld began speaking throughout America on the message of peace and prosperity, speaking to the people about pro-immigration policy, low taxes, balanced budgets, and more. In short, the campaign rested on the idea that the government should stay out of your wallet and out of your bedroom. Bill Weld ran a strong campaign under Gary Johnson, and together they received 4,489,235 votes for the message of peace and prosperity.

Leading to the 2020 Libertarian National Convention much is unknown, but it is clear that even if there is not another Bill Weld or Gary Johnson, the idea and message of Libertarianism will spread. As the message spreads and more and more people are informed of the principles of peace and prosperity, it is clear that the breakout year for the Libertarian Party is coming soon as momentum grows.

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The Florida Midterm Election Mess: A Recap

Atilla Sulker | United States

The recent midterm elections yet again exemplify the volatility of Florida politics. Like in the 2000 presidential election in which Bush defeated Gore by a small margin following a recount, the sunshine state continues to be plagued by a great confusion in regards to who has been elected.

Florida has been a key swing state for some time. As recent as the 2016 presidential election, it has been the focus of electoral controversy. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump defeated his opponent Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than 2 percent in the State- Trump leading with 49% and Clinton barely trailing with 47.8%.

In the most recent Senate election, incumbent Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by a very slim margin of less than 0.5%. Scott won by a mere 12,562 votes, i.e. by 0.2 percentage points. Counties leaning in Nelson’s favor include Miami-Dade, Leon, and Broward Counties. Scott claimed a larger percentage of votes in Miami-Dade than did presidential contender Donald Trump in 2016.

Florida law requires that if a candidate wins by a margin of 0.5% or less, an automatic recount is triggered. Governor Scott filed a lawsuit on November 8th, making the accusation of election fraud. Scott boldly proclaimed: “I will not stand idly by while unethical liberals try to steal an election”. Scott was leading Nelson by around 57,000 votes at the close of the election, but this lead diminished to less than 15,000 within a few days.

Scott also appeared on Hannity recently where he expressed his disappointment with Senator Nelson, accusing his lawyers of trying to steal the election and referring to Nelson as a “career politician”.

In response to Scott’s accusations, on November 8th, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tweeted: “Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy. Count every vote”.

Broward County has been the center of focus in the election controversy, where a large wave of new votes were discovered after election night. Scott stated on Hannity: “We don’t know how many more votes they’re gonna come up with, but it sure appears they’re gonna keep finding as many votes as it takes to try to win this election”.

Trump responded to the Broward County incident on November 9th: “Mayor Gillum conceded on Election Day and now Broward County has put him “back into play.” Bill Nelson conceded Election – now he’s back in play!? This is an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!”

On November 10th, Trump also tweeted: “Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!”

Mayor Gillum, in response to Trump’s November 9th tweet, tweeted:” What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course. Count every vote.”

One twitter user under the name MaximusM76‏ who claims to be a supporter of Gillum responded to Gillum: “You are wrong Sir. I voted for you.. but you are wrong. NOT every vote should be counted. Fraudulent votes, which encompass several categories, should not count.”

Along with the senatorial race, the gubernatorial race in Florida has also been subject to much controversy. On election night, Representative Ron Desantis was leading Mayor Gillum by enough votes to bypass the 0.5% recount margin, but by November 10th, this lead had shrunk enough to fall within the margin of half a percent.

Gillum announced his concession from the race on election night, but retracted this concession on November 10th. Gillum loudly issued his clarion call: “I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote.”

Florida continues to show its swing state characteristics and its evenly split tendencies. Rick Scott beat his 2010 gubernatorial opponent Alex Sink and 2014 opponent Charlie Crist by margins near 1 percent. These races remain hotly contested, but the razor-thin margins of this month’s elections and the mandatory recounts underscore that it is not an understatement to focus on the significance of the impact of small margins in any major Florida race.

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Interview with Wisconsin LP Chair Phil Anderson

Jack Parkos | United States

Phil Anderson is the Wisconsin Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. Phil is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the current chair of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party. Phil is also a veteran and served in the US Army as a combat medic in a Patriot missile battalion in West Germany.

The following is a transcrip from an interview with Phil Anderson.

Parkos: Your campaign mentions a lot of how you wish to “drain the swamp” in politics. How have you seen political corruption specifically in Wisconsin?

Anderson: Well mainly in Wisconsin you see the corruption through the government giving tax breaks, tax incentives, and flat out grants to private businesses. Probably the most egregious example is the Wisconsin Development Economic Corporation giving grants to business to either move here, expand here, or to stay in some cases. Often times those are contributions to businesses that have made donations to the Walker administration. Previous to him it was Doyle administration. And often time they are businesses that don’t really even need those tax breaks like Kwik Trip for example.

Parkos: You have said that you would start pardoning people convicted of victimless crimes, could you fill us in on more about that process?

Anderson: Yes I’ve made a commitment to immediately pardoning people who are in jail for non-violent drug crimes, not all victimless crimes initially but non-violent drug crimes. Those tend to one where there is the most (I mean there’s a tremendous amount of injustice obviously) but specific injustice to people of color in Wisconsin. So the governor, among the other things I’ve committed to fighting for, the governor has the authority in the state constitution to pardon people who are in prison. So it’s pretty straightforward, you have to have the correct information about the person that’s incarcerated, their name, where they’re located, and probably there social security number just to verify it. Some basic record keeping that’s already in the system so it’s easy to pull that up. And then the governor just signs a little statement that says “I hear by pardon this person of these particular crimes” signs it, files it, and as soon as the state correction system can, which usually is a couple days they will release that person back to their community.

Parkos: Possibly one of the biggest issues of this election is the “Foxconn” a multi-billion dollar tax subsidy for a new (Electronics manufacturing) plant being built in Wisconsin. As governor would you keep, amend, or flat out get rid of this deal?

Anderson: Ideally I’d like to get rid of the Foxconn deal, the problem though is that as far as I know, that its a legally binding contract between the state and Foxconn. But they already have breached in a couple of cases in terms of environmental things and they’ve publicly changed the parameters of what they want to build, originally it was going to be large flat LCDs, now it’s going to be much smaller screens. Their projections have changed in terms of job creation and how big a building they are gonna build. So if those can nullify that contract (make it null and void) then it’s certainly outmoded. I am not renegotiating with them. So I’ll be very very strict on making sure that they follow their side of the contract, and at the point at which nullify or renegotiate it, I will do so because it is a bad deal.

Parkos: Another issue that has become popular is the people’s concerns about Wisconsin’s infrastructure, including the whole idea of “Scott Holes”. What would be your policy as a Libertarian governor towards infrastructure?

Anderson: The first problem with our infrastructure, and with roads and bridges specifically, is that the Wisconsin DOT is notoriously wasteful and corrupt. We don’t even know exactly what the state is paying for roads, because its been reported recently and exposed that they have been double paying for certain parts of road projects in the Milwaukee area and that it has been uncovered that that’s relatively routine, and I think its a warning sign as well that the contractors involved did not the payment or make note of that either. So it clearly looks like an avenue of corruption for the Wisconsin DOT to pay off certain road builders, who in turn make campaign contributions to the Walker administration. So the first thing I’ll do it to have an independent audit, a forensic accounting firm, people that go in and look for problems and to go into the entire Wisconsin DOT budget and figure out exactly where all the waste, fraud, and abuse is and get rid of that by virtue of using the Line Item Veto in the first budget that I author. Because it’s the Wisconsin Governors responsibility to write a budget right after they are elected for their first term. Once that’s done we will try to move as much control and tax authority over roads to as local a level as possible. Right now most of that funding flows through the state through the gas tax. But as much as we can move to the county level and to local level we will do that much as possible because that is where it can be more transparent, efficient, and accountable.

Parkos: The number one issue people tend to vote on is the economy, how do assure people the economy will be best off with you as governor?

Anderson: Right now there is a tremendous amount of resources being drained from the economy in terms of taxation. The biggest, most inefficient, most corruptible avenue is the state income tax, and we’ve mad a public commitment to fight for getting rid of the state income tax in Wisconsin. What that will do-along with getting rid of the Wisconsin economic development corporation, which is the mechanism the government uses to pick winners and losers in the economy. This will release a tremendous amount of wealth into the hands of individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. That coupled with our commitment to low taxation, low regulation, throughout the course of my term, and hopefully, more terms after that will give businesses that are considering growing or relocating here the certainty of a tax and regulatory environment. That’s almost as important, maybe more important, than having low tax rates, low regulation, because right now in Wisconsin what we have is rent seeking, so business come here, business exist here and they’re constantly seeking benefits from the government by making campaign contributions or threatening to leave or whatever. That’s not the normal state of affairs. Most big corporations wanna know exactly what their risk is, exactly what their costs are gonna be in terms of tax and regulation before they make decisions like that. If we can level the playing field, get rid of the state income tax, keep money in hands of individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners who employ most of the people in Wisconsin, then our economy will flourish by virtue of low taxes, low regulations, and certainty of those two things as well.”

Parkos: What is your biggest concern with a Walker victory?

Anderson: So my biggest concern with Scott Walker being reelected is that he will be even more brazing in his picking of winners and losers in the economic sense. That’s one thing if he returns to office, then the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will continue to pick winners and losers, continue to take taxpayer’s money and give it away to this who are political favorites for some reason or another and that will continue. The other thing about Scott Walker is that he seems to be completely ignorant of canibus issues the things he’s said over the last couple of years when the issue cannabis legalization has come up have been so scientifically dumbfounded so the opposite of what’s true and what we really need in Wisconsin-along with a powerful economy- is a criminal justice reform and that cannot happen without legalizing marijuana.

Parkos: What is your biggest concern with an Evers victory?

Anderson: Tony Evers is making a lot of promises right now-both he and Scott Walker have triangulated towards the middle. Tony Evers is talking about things like not changing concealed carry laws, though he has privately said and his running mate said about mental health test in order for people have licenses to carry weapons. Which is completely out of the question and unconstitutional. But also his promises about taxation probably won’t happen either. What he’s talking about that is particularly concerning is his 1.4 billion dollar (I think that’s the accurate number) school funding program. Which will greatly increase the amount of funding to k-12 schools, we know that throwing money at the problem does not work. States that have some of the worst educational outcomes-like New Jersey for example, spend the most per pupil. It’s a bad idea. That’s basically a handout to the teachers and the teachers union and those people that are helping him get elected. In the case of Tony Evers (just like with Scott Walker), they will be awarding favors with our tax money and regulations overuse to those who help get them elected and to help them possibly get reelected in the future.

Parkos: How do you feel President Trump is doing as president so far? What have you liked, what haven’t you liked?

Anderson: In regards to President Trump, the fact that he’s been rolling back regulations I like and I know that’s been going on I’m not really familiar with the bulk of the regulations that have changed so it is possible that some of that regulatory roll back has not been in benefit for the economy in general but it has been in the benefit for some business or entities in specific so I don’t really know. But the idea of deregulating I really really like so that’s good. He has mentioned recently (although I don’t know how serious he is about it) about audit or doing somethings about the federal reserve. So obviously I like that. As far as negative stuff-there’s actually a lot. His foreign policy has been all over the place, he is still pretty much an interventionist, although he mentioned during his campaign the idea of possibly withdrawing from NATO and potential from drawing from the UN or whatever it might be. I don’t think he’s serious about that otherwise it probably would’ve happened already. I also don’t think he does a good job at expressing, whatever good he is doing he is not really talking about that. He is all over the place in terms of his interactions with the public and it’s confusing, and I don’t really know if that’s just who he is or if that’s his intentional way of interacting with the public. But I don’t think that’s productive, I think it’s distracting, and for those who might wanna support him-the people who voted for him, it just makes it even more difficult to support him.

Parkos: How do you feel about the issue of the caravan from Honduras?

Anderson: So the issue of the Caravan-first of all, American foreign policy has been messing with Central and South America for a long long time and been actively destabilizing those regions for the purpose of (initially) 30-40 years ago keeping the communists out of power, but basically so that we could continue to have dominance in that region and not have to deal with actual legitimate governments. So thats part of the reason that the caravan exists in the first place because we have destabilized these regions. Second of all, I think the caravan issue is overblown. There are people that are trying to get into the United States all the time. The idea that these folks are criminals waiting to get into the United States in order have criminal intent sorta defies common sense. If they were criminals they could commit crimes where they are, they don’t need to walk 2,000 miles and then try to get into our country to do that. I think it’s more likely that they are people that are just absolutely desperate in their home countries and I think the thing to do, since we know that in Wisconsin especially but also in other parts of the country that unemployment is so low and that there is a market for to work low wage difficult jobs that Americans simply haven’t been interested in doing because they’ve got better choices. We should have a process whereby those in the Caravan (or in any situation) that we can document and haven’t been terrorists in their homecountries that we should let them in and help them find work right away. They’re not dangerous to society and the economy needs them. So we need to facilitate them coming in. While that issue seems like a national issue it relates to Wisconsin in a couple of ways. 1. We need immigrants in Wisconsin to work on farms. I spoke at the Rock County Agriculture Candidates Forum about a month ago. One of there concerns was not only having those immigrants available to work but should those immigrants get drivers licenses, because you need to drive in most cases for farm work, and my response was maybe that’s a way for them to become apart of a more integrated part of our society and if they get drivers licenses they are no longer undocumented anymore-there documented. They may not be in terms of citizenship, but they are documented and they are more productive at working for the farms in Wisconsin that we depend on. Secondly, it wasn’t that long ago when our Wisconsin National Guard went to serve on that Southern Border and I would resist those efforts as Governor. I can’t say that the National Guard can’t go because the federal law requires that in those kind of cases the federal government can just call up the National Guard from Wisconsin. But I would make a lot of noise about it because we don’t want our friends and neighbors and loved ones going to patrol the border in some political exercise, we want them to stay here unless there’s an actual emergency and honor the sacrifice that they’ve offered to make in serving their country and not treat it frivolously by sending them to the Texas border on a political exercise. I think that’s a tragedy.

Parkos: How do you feel about the aftermath of the Synagogue shooting? Do you think anyone is to blame for it?

Anderson: As regards to the tragic events at the Synagogue in Pittsburg over the weekend-our hearts and our minds and prayers go out to those victims. But there is a lot of finger pointing going on as well. A lot of people are saying that the president in practical has been inciting racial hatred and violence by using not necessarily overt terms, but by using terms like “nationalism” and “enemies of the people” and things like that. I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to point fingers at him, because he is not the source of the problem, he’s a symptom of the problem. I agree that those terms are charged with meaning and when a person who is a white nationalist hears the terms “I am a nationalist”, they think something. They embolden in the same way that other people that hold those anti social political positions might feel embolden by other terms. But those people are out there and we need to recognize that while they’re a very small percentage of the population, they people that tend to carry out acts of violence, we saw that in Charlottesville and other places. But it’s not Donald Trump or any other politician thats causing that. They are a symptom of that. What we need to do is take a look at our politics in practical. We have a political system thats dominated by two parties and in the math of having only two parties, it’s very political efficient, in order to continue to get elected, to point fingers at the other party. Because there is only two sides. There’s your side which is the lesser of two evils. The other side, which is much more evil. Once the two-party system in broken open, ideally by libertarians, but really by anybody if there is a third viable party. Then the calculus of “Us vs Them” completely changes. Governments have to work together, two of the three parties have to work together. They can’t demonize each other, they have to get things done, otherwise, government comes to a halt (Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing). But in the short term, it would create chaos in our American economy and society. So the real culprit here is a politics that is dominated by money, which constructs this two party system, dominates it and campaigns on the “Us vs. Them”, “Good vs. Evil”, demonizing the other side sorta political rhetoric that creates and emboldens people to act like that as a opposed to a politics where libertarians are represented (or at least 3 parties) where that sort of political rhetoric that’s decisive, hateful, and angry isn’t as productive. Therefore, the money powers that are behind the two parties wouldn’t invest in that sorta advertising because it wouldn’t be productive. If they had to come up with good ideas to win they would do that. In a two party system they don’t have to come up with good ideas they just have to demonize the other side. We see that playing out not only politically through this election cycle, but through every election cycle. I think that’s what makes people who are hateful a little more bold and little more excited to the things that they do such as the killings in Pittsburg.”

Parkos: What is the best course of actions that libertarians can take to help the liberty movement?

Anderson: So the best things that libertarians can do to help the liberty movement, which is-as I define it, doesn’t just include the Libertarian party but anyone who seeks liberty for people and smaller more transparent government or more constitutional goverment. There’s two things, number one is to support the Libertarian Party wherever there’s a candidate running. Now, once people are elected, I think it’s fine-in fact productive (I do it myself) to point out when a president or a person serving in the senate or congress or governor or whoever does something that’s liberty minded and I think that’s good once they’re elected. Because we need to point out that those are things that we would also do if we were in office. So when people like Justin Amash or Rand Paul, Thomas Massie whoever that might be-Scott Walker for example when he got behind the idea of petitioning the FCC to loosen up some UHF bandwidth so that Rural broadband would be something that the market could enact in rural Wisconsin. That was a market based solution and he was behind it so I applaud him for that. So pointing those things out is great and show what we would support if we were in power, and those things that are happening that are liberty minded. But on the other hand, we need to support the party and the party is growing, there are diverse aspects of our party. We actually both the benefit and liability of being philosophically grounded because Democrats and Republicans can modify their issues based in what the public is saying and based on what the other party is saying. For example, we see radical changes in what the Democrats were supporting in the 1990’s visa vi the drug war or immigration vs what they advocate for now I have no philosophical connection to! So we always have that tensions between what we are purposing and our base philosophy-which I think is healthy but also allows for some internal discord. But the Libertarian party will always always always be better, vastly better, on liberty issues than Republicans and Democrats. That’s our best pathway forward and in so far as people who are “small l libertarians” can support the libertarian party, help candidates who are running for office, get involved in politics on local level-run for school board, county board, run in non-partisan races, run for sheriff. Our candidate in Massachusetts just got the endorsement of the Boston Globe I think it was for Auditor, which is a statewide position It is partisan but because he had great qualifications he got endorsed. So anywhere that we can put our people forward and hold positions that people can recognize and say “this is a libertarian and they’re doing a good job”-that really really helps. But in any case support your libertarian candidates, don’t get sucked into the lesser of two evils conundrum because that’s a false dichotomy that presented by people that wanna suck back into normal two-party politics. We don’t want that, we need to support our canidates and point out when members of the other two parties in office and do things that are liberty minded. It’s okay to point that out. We aren’t claiming that they are libertarians, we are claiming that in this case they approaching some nugget of the truth.

Special thanks to Phil Anderson for the opportunity to interview him. Remember to get out and VOTE libertarian on November 6th.
For more information on his campaign, check out his website at https://www.teamguv.org
For information on the Wisconsin Libertarian Party check out https://www.lpwi.org

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