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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
18 October 2012
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ANNOUNCEMENTS

UFF OPEN HOUSE RECEPTION NEXT WEDNESDAY

All UFF USF employees, UFF members and non-members alike, are invited to the UFF Open House Reception on Wednesday, October 24, from 3 to 6 pm, in the Centre Gallery (MSC 2700) in the Marshall Student Centre on USF Tampa. Join us for wine, beer, soda, hors d'ouvres & talk.

CHAPTER MEETING TOMORROW CANCELED

The UFF USF Chapter meeting scheduled for tomorrow Friday has been canceled. For the rest of this semester, we will meet on alternate Fridays, at 12 noon; there will be sandwiches, soda, and chips. We will meet on November 2 at a location to be determined on USF Sarasota / Manatee, on November 16 at CPR 345 on USF Tampa, and on November 30, we will meet in SOC 145 on USF Tampa. All USF faculty and professionals are invited to come and check us out. The meeting schedule is generally posted on the right hand side of the UFF USF website.

EARLY VOTING

If you are eligible to vote, you may vote early either by mail, or by visiting an early voting site in your county.

  • To vote by mail, you must request an absentee ballot from your county Supervisor of Elections. The ballot can only be sent to your mailing address and cannot be forwarded. You must fill it in and mail to so that it is received by November 6, Election Day. And make sure that you sign and date the envelope; ballots in unsigned envelopes will not be counted.
  • To vote early in person, check the times and locations for early voting from your county Supervisor of Elections. You must bring a valid photo / signature ID such as a driver's license or Florida ID card, military or student ID. Check your Supervisor of Elections website for lists of IDs accepted in your county.
Here are Tampa Bay Area county supervisors of elections: Voting is not a privilege; it's a right and a responsibility. For more, see our Election 2012 web-page and our Get out the Vote flyer. And it can be useful to check wiki-like authorities like Ballotpedia and Project Vote Smart.

JOIN UFF TODAY!

Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AFTER A TERM AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE after a full term. Come and join the movement.

IN THIS ISSUE

NOVEMBER 6 IS ELECTION DAY

At the recent UFF (statewide) senate meeting, UFF Executive Director Ed Mitchell said that this may be the most important election in our working lives. While the presidential race is important, Mitchell was referring to the bottom of the ballot the part of our ballot that we tend to ignore, even though the results of those races can have profound effects on our lives and ideals. And the bottom of the ballot is particularly important this year a year when the ballot is unusually long.

  • The franchise. A democracy without a genuine franchise is a sham. The very fact that the franchise is under attack means that we have an obligation to exercise our right to vote. For more, see below.
  • The logistics of voting. With a ballot of perhaps six pages, lines are probably going to be longer than usual. And there will be stronger temptations to just vote in the mediagenic races or even skip voting altogether. For tips on dealing with Election Day, see below.
  • The Ballot. Perhaps the single best preparation is to make all voting decisions in advance, and not wait until Election Day and wind up in the voting booth, trying to decide which of the eighteen candidates for president to vote for. For a guide to the ballot, see below.

THE FRANCHISE

The difference that made the difference between the 2008 and 2010 elections local, legislative and congressional was turnout. And now citizens are telling pollsters that they've made up their minds about the election: the media fascination with independent voters and the debates is a relative sideshow compared to the turnout in the coming election.

Turnout has become so central that despite the media's relative inattention, turnout has become the primary battleground. Some organizations are so concerned about the wrong sort of voters voting for the wrong sort of people that they are trying to discourage or even disenfranchise voters that they don't like. Meanwhile, different forms of voting voting by mail, or voting early in person are being encouraged or discouraged depending on how that might affect the vote. While there has been much talk of voting or registration fraud, the effect of all this activity on turnout is going to have a far greater effect on the outcome of the election than the relatively microscopic amount of fraud reported to date.

Voters should make every effort to vote. Even when voting is less convenient - especially because voting is less convenient - voters should make every effort to vote. A right that is not exercised is diminished, especially if that right is not exercised when it is under attack.

THE LOGISTICS OF VOTING

There are three ways to vote, and the time to plan is now.

  • Voting on Tuesday, November 6. If you are registered to vote, then you are supposed to vote at a particular location (for your precinct). That location should be on your voter registration card; if your card is old (or you can't locate it), you can find the location from your County Supervisor of Elections website (see the Early Voting announcement in the left column). On Election Day, you must vote at your precinct location. Voting is from 7 am to 7 pm; if you are still in line as of 7 pm, the election staff will continue operations until all in line have voted. Bring photo ID: without photo ID, you will be required to cast a "provisional" ballot, whose precise status may remain unresolved for up to two days after the election after many races are decided, and who knows what the resolution might be? so we strongly recommend bringing photo ID.
  • Voting by Absentee Ballot. Typically, it is prudent to request an absentee ballot even if you already have a standing request: all absentee ballots provided per standing requests were already mailed over a week ago, so if you have not received one and you want one, you must request it. Follow instructions carefully and completely in particular, don't forget to sign the envelope for an overworked and frazzled canvassing board will be making rapid decisions on accepting or rejecting each absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be received by Election Day, or they will not be counted.
  • Voting Early in Person. Early voting times and locations vary county by county: each County Supervisor of Elections posts the times and locations for their county, and there is a list for the entire state posted by the Florida Division of Elections. As with voting on Election Day, bring photo ID.
For more information, see your County Supervisor of elections website (see the left column) or the Florida Division of Elections.

THE BALLOT

County supervisors of elections are supposed to send sample ballots to voters, but they also may be obtained online. It is always a good idea to decide in advance how to vote and write those decisions down: that reduces delays and mistakes in the voting booth. That is especially true this year as the ballot is six pages long and has a lot of reading material in it.

Here is a quick overview of the ballot.

There are twelve candidates for president listed (and six more write-in candidates) and four candidates for senator listed (and five more write-in candidates): the complete list of candidates is posted on-line. Also on page 1 of the ballot are Congressional races (every Congressperson is up for re-election, but only if there is opposition), legislative races (Florida Senate and Florida House), local officials (sheriffs, mayors, supervisors of elections, property appraisers, etc.), and various local boards (county commissioners, school board members, city council members, tax districts, soil & water conservation districts, etc.) and judges.

More on judges in a moment.

Many of these candidates are vetted by organizations and newspapers, who then publish their endorsements. If you do not have the time to check the credentials of these candidates, you may want to check what organizations and newspapers have to say about them. See the West Central Florida Federation of Labor list posted at the UFF Votes site as well as endorsements posted, or to be posted, by the Lakeland Ledger, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Times, and the Tampa Tribune. And you can find out what candidates want to say from their websites. Television ads and unsolicited mail provide disinformation at best.

A special word about judges. Historically, judicial races are boring because judges are not supposed to talk about issues. But this year ...

If these three justices are removed, they would be replaced by Governor Scott, which may be the idea. Many lawyers are outraged: at the UFF Senate briefing by Ron Meyer (retained by the FEA; see the previous Biweekly), Meyer took a personal moment to appeal to UFF senators to support the three justices. And Pat Quinlan of Searcy & partners produced a You-tube video on the retention election. The Florida Education Association also recommends voting to retain Lewis, Pariente, and Quince.

Then there are five pages of eleven constitutional amendments proposed by the Florida state legislature. Reaction to these amendments has varied from the Tampa Tribune, which has found a few virtues in each, to the Tampa Bay Times, which recommends voting against them all. The League of Women Voters agrees with the Times. The union recommends against some, takes no position on others, and supports none of them, but faculty who remember a student representative standing up to J. D. Alexander during the USF Poly affair may want to take a critical look at Amendment 12, which would give the governor the power to appoint the student representative to the Board of Governors.

Yes, this election is a lot of work. And this is a very busy time of year. But timing is everything in politics, and the time to do something is right now. Don't forget to vote!

LOGISTICS

The Chapter Meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, has been canceled. The next Chapter Meeting is Friday, November 2, at 12 noon, at USF Sarasota / Manatee at a location TBD.

Sandwiches, chips, and soda will be provided by the Chapter, and all UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

Membership: All employees in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.

NOTE: The USF-UFF Chapter website is http://www.uff.ourusf.org, and our e-mail address is uff@ourusf.org.

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