I can now block out all the crazy, negative political ads. It's done. I voted absentee Tuesday afternoon.
Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards and her staff are on top of things, as usual. In speaking to one of the workers in the Lakeland SOE office, I was told that over 29,000 absentee ballots had been sent out for this election, and over 130 voters had come in before me yesterday to cast ballots.
I don't mind letting everyone know how I voted; it's printed here as the official Interstate4Jamming endorsements:
President/Vice President of the United States: John F. Kerry / John Edwards. I mean, after the past four years, do you truly think I would want four more years of lies and deceit? C'mon!
United States Senate: Betty Castor. Ms. Castor has nearly three decades of public service, is extremely knowledgeable in education as a former state education secretary and university president, and has taken the high road in the face of endless negative campaigning. She has stayed her ground throughout the primary and general campaign, not having to change her direction (remember Mel Martinez painted himself into the right wing corner during the primary when everyone was challenging each other's conservativism? It's hard to get out of that corner now!).
United States Congress, 12th District: Bob Hagenmaier. Sometimes, you have to hold your nose and pray you're not making a mistake in the end. I strongly oppose some of his social positions, as I've noted here recently. But in making a choice between Mr. Hagenmaier and Bush's puppy dog Adam Putnam (I don't intend to insult puppy dogs), a half a loaf is better than none at all. It's generally a given that Putnam will probably win with at least a 70% majority, so the local Democratic Party will need to recruit a strong candidate for 2006 (unless primary candidate Jeff Siemer decides to make another run, which I truly hope he does).
Florida Senate, District 15: I actually left this blank. I was not about to vote for the Republican incumbant, Paula Dockery, but Democratic challenger Carol Castagnero is simply not a strong candidate and I fear that she would be an embarassment in Tallahassee. She is a 1-2 issue candidate (FCAT/DCF) who tends, in her speeches, to ramble endlessly and has already been banned from the SOE offices.
Florida House, District 64: Bill Fenton.
Polk County Commission, District 1: Mark Hopkins
Polk County Commission, District 3: John Johnson
Polk County Commission, District 4: Jean Reed
Polk County Commission, District 5: John Thomas Fennell
It's simply time for a sweeping change on the Polk County Board of County Commissioners. The current BOCC seems to have their lips sucking at the breasts of the local builders and developers associations, which causes Polk to continue to have among the lowest impact fees in all Central Florida. They refused to step up to the plate on the issue of sales tax referendums for indigent health care and school construction, hoping the voters would bring it down (they didn't). This current board has simply provided a lack of leadership, and more often than not have provided more drama with their infighting than anything else.
Polk County School Board, District 2: Lori Cunningham.
2nd District Court of Appeals Judicial Retention: There are several judges that are on the ballot for retention. I said "Yes" to all EXCEPT JUDGE CHARLES CANADY. All one has to do is look at his track record as a Republican conservative Member of Congress (he was Bush lap dog Adam Putnam's predecessor in DC, and Putnam worked in his office) to see why you should say NO.
Constitutional Amendment 1: Parential Notification of a Minor's Termination of Pregnancy: Yes. I am a parent, and although I believe that a woman should have the choice to terminate a pregnancy that choice should not be extended to persons who are not adults without their parent's knowledge and consent. Most teenagers simply do not have the maturity to make that type of decision, especially in a highly stressful situation. This one tears at me.
Constitutional Amendment 2: Constitutional Amendments Proposed by Initiative: No. The ability to make legislation through initative (constitution amendment) is unique and is an excellent means of taking action when out so-called representatives in Tallahassee fail to do so. This amendment is supported by VoteSmartFlorida.org, which was formed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Student Association, Florida Retail Association...you get the picture. It's a means of making it more difficult for getting items on the ballot.
Constitutional Amendment 3: The Medical Liability Claimant's Compensation Amendment: Yes
Constitutional Amendment 4: Authorizes Miami-Dade and Broward County Voters To Approve Slot Machines In Paramutuel Facilities: Yes. This 1) allows voters in those two counties to hold referendums to make the final decision on the question themselves, and 2) mandates that taxes from such slot machine revenues benefit education. I have some reservations on that, because we know about what happened with education budgets after the Lottery was approved.
Constitutional Amendment 5: Florida Minimum Wage Amendment: Yes. This would actually be moot if the Congress did the right thing and passed an increase in the federal minimum wage from the current $5.15/hour, where it has been for a number of years. This amendment would make the minimum wage in Florida at $6.15/hour, and would be indexed to inflation annually. Maybe if this passed the representatives in DC would notice and follow our lead...but that would be asking too much, eh???
Constitutional Amendment 6: Repeal of High Speed Rail Amendment: No. The voters spoke two years ago about the need to look toward the future and bring the regions of our state closer together. I look at Interstate 4, living only a few blocks from the main east-west highway across Central Florida, and see the endless construction. And once this widening to eight lanes is completed, I'm sure it will be time to go back to the drawing boards to do it all again, because our area of the state continues to grow. We simply have to look toward the future and altenative methods which will help control traffic, lower pollution levels, and protect our enviroment as much as possible. A high speed rail will also help the many tourists who visit to enjoy more of our state.
Constitutional Amendment 7: Patient's Right To Know About Adverse Medical Incidents: Yes.
Constitutional Amendment 8: Public Protection From Repeated Medical Malpractice: Yes. The "Three Strikes" rule. A doctor's got your life and limbs in his/her hands, and this simply allows the state to get rid of bad apples who are found to screw up in the course of their practice. You would think that the Florida Medical Association would want to get rid of those as well, but it seems that they are more interested in protecting their own.