Why Democrats are Suing over “Ballot Order” in Florida

In what would appear to be an unusual move for a party that is expecting to easily retake control over the House of Representatives in November, the Democratic Party is suing the state of Florida over its law determining which candidate is listed first on the ballot.

The rule is a fairly uncontroversial one that has been in place for decades and even benefitted Democrats in the past; even so, it is clear that the Democrat challenge has been filed in the hope of gaining even a small advantage in the 2018 mid-term elections. The suit was filed by the DNC, Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and Priorities USA. Current Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner is named as the defendant.

Florida’s current ballot rule states that candidates from the state governor’s party are listed first on each ballot. Because Florida has elected Republican governors for the past twenty years, Republican candidates have been listed first all this time. About a dozen other states use the same ballot law, so it is hardly an issue unique to Florida politics; however, the controversy surrounding the Florida law has arisen mainly from the fact that many Florida races are won or lost by small percentage points.

Studies seem to indicate that the first candidate listed on the ballot has a slight advantage over the second candidate as undecided voters are more likely to vote for the first candidate than the second. The DNC and its allies are alleging that the candidate listed first gains up to a 5% advantage over the second candidate in a two-candidate race; however, as one savvy political analyst has pointed out, studies showing a first place listing advantage don’t clearly show how much of an advantage the candidate listed first actually has. Evidence seems to indicate that a first place listing in a big ticket race makes little difference as voters are likely to be familiar with the candidates — and won’t vote for someone based solely on ballot placement. However, close down-ballot races may be affected if some voters aren’t familiar with the candidates.

Naturally, one candidate would need to be listed above another in any race. Democrats are proposing that first-place listings be rotated or selected randomly so that no one party has what could be construed as an “unfair advantage.” However, it would seem that a party that is truly focused on winning would do better using another, more common tactic to overcome what it views to be a formidable opponent.

Instead of targeting a petty matter such as ballot placement, it would seem the most sensible course of action would be to invest more time and effort in promoting good candidates and helping voters get familiar with candidates’ platforms. Creating a greater awareness of the benefits of voting for a particular candidate would increase the odds of a person voting for the candidate in question rather than randomly picking one on voting day. Helping voters understand the importance of even down-ballot races would also help the party to mobilize its voters for small, local races that make a big difference in the local community.

The problem for the Democratic Party seems to stem from the fact that in many states it does not have a cohesive platform to run on. Instead of promoting a platform based on jobs and the economy, many candidates are running a campaign based on promoting negative information about President Trump and GOP congressional candidates and incumbents. However, many people are tired of hearing about Stormy Daniels and the Mueller investigation; they are far more interested in day-to-day priorities such as bettering the local and national economy.

While it remains to be seen if the Democrats will win their latest lawsuit and get both the ballot rule change and lawsuit compensation they are asking for, what is clear to both voters and honest news analysis is that the DNC is in far greater trouble than anyone cares to admit. Clearly, the party is willing to do just about anything, including filing a frivolous lawsuit, in order to win local and national elections without having to provide voters with the policies they need and deserve.

~ Liberty Planet