The nonpartisan election reform commission established by Obama held its first public meeting last Friday, June 28, at the University of Miami, where elected officials, analysts, and voters discussed the current electoral process in Florida and reforms needed to improve the system.
The first part of the meeting consisted of state election officials and MIT, Harvard, and Texas State panels providing testimony in a question and answer exchange with the commission before breaking for lunch and returning for the second half with one-way citizen testimony.
John Quinn, the Broward County, Fla. spokesperson for IndependentVoting.org, and Gigi Wenz, the West Palm Beach representative, attended the event. Quinn offered testimony to the commission among a crowd of citizens and state election officials largely concerned with the lengthy voting line times encountered in the 2012 election.
“We don’t have a vote in the primaries here – even though we are 22 percent of our electorate,” stated Quinn before the commission.
“There are 18 other states in this country that don’t allow independents to vote in the first round of voting, and there are several other states that require an independent voter to sign up with a party in order to vote in the primary. We are independent for a reason. We don’t like the gridlock caused by the Democratic or Republican’s inability to work together. We may have similar views to both parties, but we don’t want to be controlled by a party. We are not loyal to a party, but rather to America.”
While the commission seemed to be taking notes on the concerns he raised, Wenz said, “it seemed that their main concern was the long voting lines and what could be done to fix that,” adding that line length was definitely a problem that needed to be addressed.
Wenz stressed how important it is for large numbers of independent-minded voters to attend and provide testimony at the upcoming commission meetings in Denver, Philadelphia and Ohio, along with signing an open letter to be delivered to the commission and contacting the commission through its website.
Testimony from elected officials and citizens also covered issues such as early and overseas voting, disability rights, poll worker training, election equipment, and election preparation.
“The President, in establishing this commission has mandated you to operate in a nonpartisan manner,” Quinn told the commission, wrapping up his testimony. “In order to do that, I urge you to take a look at how 40% of the electorate nationwide is limited by the election process. We represent every race and we are growing in number.”