Applying Truth in Advertising Laws to Candidates Could Boost Public Interest in Elections

Do you support the Republicans or Democrats? Most likely you don’t support either. According to the Florida state department of election, there were, as of July 28, 2014, 4,144,186 Republicans and 4,599,326 Democrats. There were also 2,715,736 registered NPA (no party affiliation) voters, and 358,089 people registered with third parties (also known as minor parties) for a total of 3,073,825 voters not affiliated with either major party.

The only reason that a lot of people say they are registered with a major party is to vote in the primary. That is because Florida has a closed primary system.

In a closed primary system, if you want to vote in the Republican primary, you must register as a Republican. If you want to vote in the Democratic primary, you must register as a Democrat. Since the purpose of this primary system is only to elect candidates of two private organizations, only these private organizations benefit from it.

Rick Scott got 87.65 percent of the vote in the Florida Republican primary and Charlie Crist got 74.36 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. This sounds good, until you realize that means only 87.65 percent of the Republicans that turned out to vote and 74.36 percent of the Democrats that turned out.

Only 22.90 percent of the registered Republicans bothered to turn out to vote in the governor’s race — a higher turnout compared to the Democrats. Only 18.21 percent of registered Democrats turned out to vote in their primary. Does the low voter turnout in both parties indicate a lack of enthusiasm for any of the candidates on the ballot?

Yes! I believe it does. The problem for the major parties, as I see it, is how to turn out a larger percentage of the people registered in their party. One answer is to stop negative campaigning and tell the people what you will do if elected or re-elected, whatever the case may be.

The legislature could help by making truth in advertising laws apply to candidates. In other words, if a candidate promises to vote a certain way on a particular bill and then votes a different way once elected, they have committed a felony and should be disqualified from holding public office.

Photo Credit: Vepar5 / shutterstock.com