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Write-In Sham: How an Obscure GOP Group Is Disenfranchising 40,000 Voters in Local Races

| June 6, 2012

Bob Hamby, the most powerful local Republican you've never heard of. (© FlaglerLive)

When the qualifying period for local political races closes Friday, three key races—two for the Flagler County Commission and the clerk of court race—will most likely be contested only by Republicans in the Aug. 14 primary. Dan Parham, who chairs the local Democratic Executive Committee, said today he can’t find anyone willing to run for those seats.

Normally, that would mean that all registered voters, including Democrats and Independents, would get to vote in those races featuring only Republicans, because the primary decides the winner.

That’s the law. It’s been the law since 64 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 to open Florida’s primary system, when members of only one party are contesting an election. “If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation,” the amendment reads, “and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary elections for that office.”

But there was a loophole in the amendment. Republicans and Democrats quickly took advantage of it: by fielding a write-in candidate, they would create a contested general-election scenario again, and therefore be able to close the primary.

The Write-In “Sham”

That’s what, for the first time since 1998, is happening in Flagler County in those three races: People nobody’s ever heard of, who have no chance of winning or the intention to win, have qualified as write-ins: Paulette Dunkel in the clerk of court race between Republican incumbent Gail Wadsworth and Republican Ken Mazzie; Daniel Bozza Sr. in the county commission race between incumbent Alan Peterson and Charlie Ericksen; and Carole Ruffalo in the county commission race between Republicans Frank Meeker and Dennis McDonald. George Cominsky, another Reagan group member, had filed as a write-in against Democrat Barbara Revels, the county commissioner, but he died within days of filing. Revels is unopposed.

Republicans, Democrats qualifying for any of those races would have either had to gather more than 600 petitions or pay nearly $3,000. The write-in candidates didn’t have to pay anything. Nor gather signatures. All they had to do was declare their intention to be a write-in. They’re not even candidates in the primary: They’re not allowed to run in the primary. They can only run in the general election. But their name won’t appear on the ballot. There’ll be an empty line. It’ll be up to voters to decide whether to write-in that name.

It’s a sham, and the Florida Senate described it in precisely those terms in 1999, when it considered a bill—Senate Bill 710—to close the loophole. “During consideration of SB 710 by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee,” a committee report on the issue related in September 1999, “the members of the committee expressed serious concerns that any person or group could field a ‘sham’ write-in candidate for the purpose of closing the primary election to party voters only. The Senate members felt that this would thwart the will of the voters who favored the amendment to the Constitution.”

But the Florida House blocked closing the loophole—because House members then and now have been taking advantage of it to win elections. It’s not just a Republican thing. Democrats have used the loophole, too, as did Sen. Audrey Gibson last year in a special election that included a sliver of Flagler County. But it’s never been used in elections for local office in Flagler County.

Until the emergence of the local Ronald Reagan Republican Assemblies of Florida.

The Ronald Reagan Republicans

The Ronald Reagan assemblies are a hard-right group that locally includes many members of the tea party, and that has been leading militant insurgencies against establishment Republicans: the Ronald Reagan club is behind the ongoing lawsuit against the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee. It is behind the lawsuit against John Pollinger, the Republican candidate for sheriff.

And it has fielded write-in candidates in five local races, as well as actual candidates: Wadsworth, who’s always been savvy with her political allegiances, is a member (she was also the president of the Flagler County Republican Club until she resigned the position during her run for re-election). Dennis McDonald is a member. Charlie Ericksen is a member.

The Ronald Reagan write-ins are part of a strategy to ensure that in the two county commission races and the clerk of court race, the more moderate or establishment candidates can no longer rely on the votes of Democrats and Independents.

McDonald (whose wife, Janet, is a write-in in the sheriff’s race, though that race features contested primaries with Democrats and Republicans) defended the write-in strategy in an interview earlier this week, while he was at the supervisor of elections’ office. McDonald’s point was two-fold: Republican primaries should remain primaries for Republicans exclusively. And if Democrats have a complaint, they should have fielded candidates instead. McDonald did not pretend that any of the write-ins had a chance, speaking candidly about the purpose of the strategy.

Wadsworth took a different approach. “I met her Saturday,” she said of write-in Paulette Dunkel. “I consider her and other write-ins, though other candidates may not share my feelings, an opponent, and when I learned that she had written in, I started raising money in hopes that I would win the primary to continue to the general election.” Wadsworth added: “I was asked to ask her to step down, and how does one candidate ask another candidate to step down? That would be like asking me to ask my primary opponent to step down.”

Not exactly, considering the qualifying hurdles her opponents and other candidates whose names will appear on the ballot had to go through.

Ericksen, who’s challenging Alan Peterson, repeatedly attempted to deflect the question of the fairness of the write-in the process on the fact that it’s admissible as law. “It seems that at times for particular people it isn’t fair,” he said, when pressed, suggesting that if it’s unfair, the Legislature should change the system. Ericksen said he did not know that fellow-Reagan club member Daniel Bozza was filing as a write-in in his race until after the fact.

“It’s Un-American”

Naturally, the candidates or their supporters being targeted by write-in strategies are livid. Alan Peterson is pointing out the scheme on his campaign literature. Donna Heiss, whose husband, Ken Mazzie, is the clerk of court candidate challenging Wadsworth, was as candid as McDonald, from the opposite perspective. “I’m mad, I can tell you I am a registered Republican and I am mad the Democrats and the Independents are being denied their say in these three races that will be decided August 14. It’s un-American,” Heiss said.

“Yes, my husband is running for a position, but it’s my take that people shouldn’t be denied a vote no matter if you’re a Democrat or an Independent in a deciding race. Everyone is equal.” She added: “I do see this as malice. I see this as election manipulation, in my opinion, I see this as a group of people trying to control the county politics, I see this as this group really denying 40,000 people the opportunity to have a say. That’s totally unacceptable, it’s un-American, it’s not fair.”

Mazzie had become a member of the local tea party and the Ronald Reagan club, but Heiss said he was submitting a letter of resignation to the Ronald Reagan club “because of unethical practices on their part.”

Bob Hamby, who heads the Ronald Reagan club, did not return a call before this article was posted. But he addressed the issue in a comment on FlaglerLive early this morning, in a thread that brought much of the issue to light. “We are not disenfranchising any voters, the Flagler County Democrat Party disenfranchised voters by having no candidates,” he wrote.

Democrats’ Options

Parham, the Democratic Executive Committee chairman–who wasn’t even aware of the Reagan group’s existence–doesn’t buy it. “I can’t go along with that,” he said, referring to the Ronald Reagan group’s rationale. “The only way that the Dems and Independents are locked out is because they’re doing a write-in vote. Whether Democrats can find someone to run or not, everyone would still be able to vote if they did not take this action, so they’re doing something affirmative to lock everyone else out. So they want to make a big issue out of it and that makes them feel better, but let’s call it what it is, these Reagan Republicans are doings something that’s closing out the elections for those races.”

Peterson said he wasn’t sure how the scheme will affect his race, though Dennis McDonald suggested an answer: when justifying the write-in approach, McDonald used last year’s race for Palm Coast mayor between Ericksen and Jon Netts. That race, too, featured only two Republicans, and was decided in a primary, with no write-ins. Netts won, McDonald said, because Democrats and Independents voted for him. That’s McDonald hopes will be avoided in his and other races where write-ins have been fielded.

That’s why Peterson said he “very definitely” wishes the primary was open to all voters.

But registered Democrats and Independents are not entirely without options: they can still change their party affiliation to Republican, and do so until July 16, vote in the Republican primary then switch their registration back before the general election. Many voters do just that. Most don’t. And many don’t want to, because there are also three local races featuring Democratic primaries (for sheriff, for the Florida House, and for a Congressional seat).

The primaries will be effectively closed, and if history is any guide—judging from almost every Florida race featuring write-ins over the past decade—the Republican winning the primary will then go on to win the general election with at least 99 percent of the vote, against write-ins whose names few will ever know and fewer still will vote for, assuming those write-in candidates stay in the race. Most don’t, because they don’t want to bother with the paperwork.

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56 Responses for “Write-In Sham: How an Obscure GOP Group Is Disenfranchising 40,000 Voters in Local Races”

  1. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    It’s not a sham if it’s within the rules. There’s no doubt the law needs to be changed, but implying someone who takes advantage of the current law is perpetrating a sham is unfair. There are two opportunities under current law to overcome this strategy ; a) Democrats field a candidate! You’re telling me in a county full of New England democrats, you can’t find a couple of viable candidates to run in these elections??? b) everyone who wants to vote in these closed primaries can change voter registration.

  2. David says:

    I think with the recent poor voter turnouts at previous elections here in Palm Coast, I feel these so called Democratic Executive Party , Ronald Reagan Republicans, and Tea Party should focus more on encouraging people to get out and vote instead of worrying about what candidate is on the ballot. Do your job, encourage people to vote.

    • Linda H. says:

      Doing it quite well, David. Some from the other side are not happy about that.

      • David says:

        @Linda H, If you consider 5 % of register voters a good turnout for the recent mayor and city council election as “quite well” LOL.,

  3. Dorothea says:

    FlaglerLive, I had just finished a comment elsewhere when I read your article. Thank you for doing the research and interviews in order to get this vital information out. It’s too bad that my local DEC appears to be asleep at the switch.

  4. Nancy N. says:

    I’m a Democrat. When I initially moved to Flagler County ten years ago, however, I did what Johnny Taxpayer says and registered as a Republican because I knew enough about the local politics around here to know that the only way to have any say in who is running this city, county and state is to vote in the Republican primary.

    I later changed this registration to Independent because I was sick of the harassment from political solicitations because of my registration making me look like a Republican supporter.

    I came to Florida from Michigan, where there were open primaries and I could vote for whatever party I wanted on primary day. This closed primary system is evil. It disenfranchises voters because it means that only the members of the dominant party in an area that is so heavily controlled by a single party get to choose who their government is. As a member of the minority party, I get no say at all, ever. It shouldn’t be that way in a democracy…that is perilously close to the one party system in places like the Soviet Union and China. You’re either a member of the ruling party and your get a vote, or you have no rights.

    And don’t tell me that I could have a “say” by the Democrats fielding a suicide dummy of a candidate that everyone knows is never going to win. That’s not having a say…that’s a farce.

    • Johnny Taxpayer says:

      Your post simply lacks factual basis. According to the supervisor of elections website (who is a democrat by the way), as of 5/29/2012 there are 24,050 registered Democrats and 24,705 registered Republican in Flagler County. Those republicans ruling the world hold a whopping 655 count lead in a county of 67,376 registered voters. Prior to the Republican Presidential Primary in January, there were slightly more registered democrats than republicans.
      On the county commission right now of the 5 seats, 3 are Democrat, 2 Republican. Every election for Sheriff since you moved here 10 years ago has included a Democrat and Republican primary, and has had an independent in the general. The City of Palm Coast hold’s non-partisan elections so anyone can vote for anyone, even in the primaries. Mr. Mazzie running for Clerk of courts this term as a republican, ran 4 years ago as a democrat.

      So frankly to make the claim “the only way to have a say around here is to register republican” is laughable. Democrats win races all the time in Flagler County, hell in 2008 Mr Obama carried Flagler by 2 points. But you have to at least get show up to the game, if you want a chance to win.

      • Johnny Taxpayer says:

        And there is absolutely nothing wrong with closed primaries, when the primary is being used only to decide who that party will nominate for a general election. Republicans have no right to choose who the democrats nominate as their party candidate, or vice versa. That’s not disenfranchising voters, that’s allowing democrats to pick which democrat will represent their party.

        • Nancy N. says:

          It’s easy to say that when you are a Republican who doesn’t want YOUR party diluted by the votes of outsiders influencing candidates. But if you are the one who has to sit back and year after year watch your party getting rolled over at the polls, with no chance of winning any major office where you live…it certainly feels like your vote is worthless, like you are disenfranchised.

          Why do you think that the local Democrats can’t find anyone to run for all those offices in this area? It’s because no one feels like being a sacrificial lamb when they know it’s pointless, that the odds are against them.

          Also – btw – it doesn’t matter what the registration numbers say about how equal the parties are. It matters, at the end of the day, what the ELECTION RESULTS say. And I know, every time I vote for a candidate or on a ballot proposition, that I will be on the losing side. In all the times I’ve voted in the past 10 years, I fairly sure I can literally count on one hand the number of votes I’ve cast that were on the “winning” side of the election. I make the effort only because I spent 3 years as a political science student before switching majors in college and I understand how important my exercise in futility is to the continued existence of our democratic system. Except that it doesn’t feel so democratic to me.

          Oh, and if I’m so wrong – Why do you think Pollinger is fighting so desperately to get on the Republican ballot?

          • Linda H. says:

            I know that John Pollinger has many supporters here and are you telling me that you won’t vote for him unless he is on the Republican ballot?

            I disagree with that statement. What I see here is a lack of candidates, PERIOD, wanting to run for office and this must be fixed.

            Just look at the number of candidates who won their elections simply because they had no opposition. Unbelievable!

          • Linda H. says:

            Nancy, why don’t you register as a Republican? Or work to make your party stronger, building the membership? Until very recently, the numbers were evenly matched here with the Republicans behind. Your premise doesn’t make sense. If Republicans were winning all the elections, it was because there was no leadership on the Democrat side, which I don’t believe either. This isn’t about winning or losing, it is about getting people involved.

            Democracy is about choices.

      • Nancy N. says:

        It doesn’t matter what the registration numbers are for the county itself when we are grouped in with other counties that are heavily Republican for choosing our state and congressional reps – please see Flagler Live’s recent articles about the redistricting that made Flagler more dominant in its own district and actually gave the Democrats a chance at winning in this district. Why do you think John Mica bailed and is running in a district that doesn’t include Flagler now, against another Republican incumbent? It’s because we now are our own district instead of being lumped in with neighboring St. John’s and Volusia, which are much more heavily Republican than Flagler.

        And no one can argue that if you want a say in state level politics in this state you have to vote in the Republican gubernatorial primary. It is, de facto, the general election for that position in this state in recent years.

    • Think first, act second says:

      Your statements are a little misguided. According to the Supervisor of Elections site, and she is a Dem so you should trust it, as of 5/31 there were 24,050 registered Democrats and 24, 705 Republicans with 18,600 independent or minor party registrants. So you can see there is really no dominant party in Flagler County only the party that is active in the election process and the on lookers. Check it out for yourself It is the Democrats who cannot find candidates under this POTUS reign, they are all embarassed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It seems to me that although the write-in approach may be legal it crosses an ethical line. To intentionally create a hurdle for all voters to participate in an uncontested party election is a political maneuver that damages the integrity of the election. This tactic is insulting to every citizen. The candidates behind this shameful approach to gain an unfair advantage will not be getting my vote. This type of sneaky and self serving behavior reflects the value and character (or lack thereof) of a candidate.

    • Think first, act second says:

      You must have missed the portion of the article which says both parties have used this law to support their ends. Re-read it and say if it crosses an ethical line by both parties.
      No one is blocked from voting. You have been told the processes for being able to vote, unfortunately the Democrats in Flagler County cannot support this POTUS’ agenda and are staying at home rather than running for offices.

      • Anonymous says:

        Think first, act second,
        I did not miss that portion of the article, and I don’t care whether it is a Democrat or a Republican using this loophole. For me it raises an ethical concern, and I have lost patience with all politicians who manipulate the system and the truth for personal gain. I won’t have a problem voting in August, but there are quite a few people who will. That isn’t fair to any of us no matter who we are voting for or what our party affiliation happens to be.

    • Linda H. says:

      What about those candidates who can’t afford the fee? I know one who is running because of that and he is going to be very lucky to gain any votes as a write in. It is his right.

      We don’t all have the financial backing of large organizations like the police unions and Italian American Club.

      These names are all going to be on the ballot. And if you are not happy with your primary selections, change your party affiliation, but please stop calling everybody a crook or dishonest because they are not. You don’t have to vote for them.

  6. thinkforyourself says:

    wow – shameful! Hey Johnny how in the world can you say this is not a sham! They are exploiting a loophole and blocking everyday people from the ability to vote in a local election. Yes, they can if they too take part in the sham and unethically switch parties to just switch back for the general. Sham, sham, sham! It may be a loophole in the the law therefore making it legal but it’s totally unethical. Running for public office should be held to an honorable standard, not taken lightly or screw with just to manipulate the process. This is exactly what’s wrong with politics. Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave! Shame on these people.

    • Linda H. says:

      Nobody is blocking your right to vote.

      • Anonymous says:

        Linda H. says:
        June 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

        Nobody is blocking your right to vote

        How can you say that? Every Democrat and Independent has had his or her right to vote in those 3 races by you Ronald Reagan people. Some people will want to vote in those races and because of your group, people have no choice but to change their party affiliation!!

  7. Rebecca says:

    A few incumbents have manipulated this situation by coordinating friends and/or acquaintances to be write-ins to disclude their opponents from gaining votes from outside of their party affiliation. This makes them feel more secure when it comes to their hopes of re-election. Not to mention, some of the incumbents’ opponents have run against them in the past, and received a significant number of votes from citizens who are outside of their respective parties; so clearly, these candidates are feeling threatened, and in return, they play dirty. It’s about time we get people in these offices who want to make a difference so real work and progress in our County can be accomplished. Despite this below-the-belt move of taking advantage of this loophole in the law, WE are the ones with the power to improve how our county is being run, and to control who is in the driver’s seat.

    The issues we are facing on a daily basis in this community need to become a priority to these sneaky political stunts; the serious problems we are facing cannot be ignored any longer. As a brief example, our current County Commissioners are now trying to give money to outside business in an effort to bring them to Flagler County; but they aren’t doing a thing to help the existing businesses (small or large) succeed. Does this make any sense to anyone?? Not to mention, the Clerk’s office is a complete mess, which has been conveyed by both the County Board of Directors as well as our Auditor General. Having worked in the legal field in Florida for 10 years, I know that a large majority of attorneys who practice in the 7th Judicial Circuit tend to turn down Flagler county cases at a much higher rate than others, strictly as a result of the considerable disarray, lack of customer service, and inability to get things done in a timely manner, nor by the book. How can someone be in office for 12 years when they clearly aren’t doing their job as expected by the citizens of this county AND the State of Florida?

    We need to reevaluate our goals as a community – Do we want Flagler County to focus within, grow, and thrive, or are we happy with the same old problems that never seem to go away? WE NEED TO ELECT QUALIFIED AND MOTIVATED CITIZENS TO RUN OUR COUNTY; NOT THE SAME OLD POLITICIANS!

    • tulip says:

      @ Rebecca—I was at a candidate forum last night, and the subject of getting businesses to come here came up. Commissioner Peterson explained that the County is trying to encourage business to come here and Palm Coast BAC is helping existing businesses and for the first time Palm Coast and the county are actually working together on something.

      • Johnny Taxpayer says:

        Peterson is a real expert on encouraging businesses to move here. While serving on the Palm Coast City Council, a franchise tire store wanted to open up in cobblestone village and bring 20 +/- jobs to the city. His response? “I think we have enough places to buy tires” and voted against it. What these clowns fail to realize is when you make that kind of statement, you’re not just preventing one tire store from opening, you’re adding to the already large perception out there that Palm Coast is not business friendly. The reason that is the perception, is because it’s true!

        • Linda H. says:

          Thank you! At least one person here recognizes why we had no choice but to encourage people to run as write ins.

          Florida is a TWO PARTY STATE. Candidates have been losing elections here for quite some time to the encumbents because when a Republican runs and he is NOT the favorite of the Chamber, the Observer, the local party, Democrats are recruited to make sure he/she does not win their race. Don’t you dare run against an incumbent here and upset the status quo!

          Democrats have been controlling your elections here for quite some time and you didn’t even know it, did you? Try running for office and imagine your surprise when your own party comes after you in favor of the Democrat. The same applies to the Tea Party here. If you are not one of the sanctioned chosen, you can forget it. Well, not anymore.

  8. Merrill Shapiro says:

    This ploy is a wonderful example of “bearing false witness,” of making it look like serious candidates are vying for election when, in fact, this is not the case. It is morally reprehensible and shows that those involved are simply part of the unethical cesspool that turns off so many to public service and to full participation in our great democracy.

    The perpetrators of this fraud want to take crime off the streets and put it in the county commission chambers. What kind of leaders will the be?

    How can people who believe in God, believe in all that is good and honest, fair and just, vote for those involved in such underhandedness? In a just and righteous world, Flagler County would vomit out these poisonous liars!

    Please, everyone, please….register to vote and go to the polls in November and make your feelings known to those who think you nothing but foolish idiots. We are better than that and our participation in a genuine and upright democratic process will make that known to one and all!

  9. tulip says:

    It was mentioned here that Mr Ericksen didn’t know Bozza had filed until after it was done. Well, if Mr Ericksen or Ms Wadsworth didn’t know about until later, why didn’t they speak to the people and tell them they felt it is unethical and suggest they withdraw their names, leaving the races open? And just supposing they did say that, and the WRI refused, then the candidates could’ve written an open letter of disapproval. My guess is that these people willingly went along with the whole scheme.

  10. Will says:

    Just a thought. It’s mentioned that Democratic Chair Dan Parham didn’t even know of the existence of the Ronald Reagan group. That’s not a good thing for a local political activist. Nuff said.

  11. Donna Heiss says:

    Thank you Pierre for bring this to light.

    These 3 races affected are important positions. August 14, 2012 will decide them.

    Overhearing a conversation last evening, a member of The Ronald Reagan Club stated to a candidate, “we just want to make sure a republican is elected”. This made no sense considering there were only 2 republicans running, one would have won anyway. By putting in a WRI, what they are deciding is who gets to vote and who does not. The only thing the WRI did was close the election to 40,000 democrats and independents combined. I ask you, what kind of people do this? Ones that want control. This voting right was taken away from democrats and independents. During the years of helping the community and continuing to help the community, everyone is equal in my eyes. No one would ever be denied the help that I/we provide. That is why this has gone against everything I believe in. I am shocked that these people would manipulate any election let alone three.

    @Linda H. The ones that couldn’t afford the “Fee” could have qualified by signatures like most candidates did. I don’t buy that argument for a minute.

    This is a desperate attempt by the Ronald Reagan Rep. Club to gain control of Flagler County.

    One more fact for the RRR Club. Ronald Reagan was a democrat before he was a republican.

  12. tulip says:

    The most important thing to remember about this article is that the Ronald Reagan people have DELIBERATELY infringed on 40,000 voters rights by denying them the right to vote in those races.

    If these voters don’t pay attention to what’s going on, they will be very upset and sorry that they didn’t when it’s too late. July 16 is the last day if a voter wants to make a party change to make them eligible to vote in the races. I noticed earlier that Sheriff Fleming has a WRI on him to. Why wasn’t that race mentioned?

    [That race was mentioned Tulip,about half-way through the article: “McDonald (whose wife, Janet, is a write-in in the sheriff’s race, though that race features contested primaries with Democrats and Republicans) defended the write-in strategy…” –FL]

  13. Dorothea says:

    This YouTube clip may seem off topic, but if we allow the tea party and its affiliated groups to gain ground, it will end up as an ecologically disaster for Florida. Our beautiful state parks will be a thing of the past and just memories for those of us who have visited them.

  14. tulip says:

    Over 16,000 Indepenents? It looks like the RR club is denying their OWN candidates a potential 16,000 votes. They must be really really confident they will get the majority of only Rep. votes. What a gamble.

  15. David says:

    I think on Election Day it would be nice for these so called Democratic Executive Committee, The Ronald Reagan Republics, and these Tea Party people, to volunteer their time and provide transportation to the election polls for those that can not get to the polls on their own. These are things these groups should be doing instead of getting all worked up over the candidates.

    • Linda H. says:

      I did that last time, David. It’s a nice was to meet your neighbors and there are lots needing help.

  16. Donna Heiss says:

    To Tulip: The reason the Sheriff race was not mentioned is because both Dems and Reps are running. The strategy for the RRR club to put a WRI in that race was in the event that both Dems pulled out or did not qualify. That has not happened, so the WRI in that race can now stop pretending to actually be in the race.

  17. Dorothea says:


    The political executive committees are elected bodies, regulated by Florida Statute. The purpose of executive committees as defined by law, whether Republican, Democratic, or Tea Party, is exactly what you say they should NOT be doing, i.e., getting “worked up over candidates” not driving people to the polls. The various political clubs, not executive committees, usually do organize and drive people to the polls.

  18. Bill McGuire says:

    Sorry to be sarcastic, but darned few of those “disenfranchised” voters have shown up at the last two elections in the city of Palm Coast.

  19. tulip says:

    To LINDA H. How can you possibly say that “nobody is blocking your right to vote”?

    Every Independent and Democrat has had his or her right to vote in these 3 races blocked because of the Ronald Reagan group and if a person wants to vote in those races, he or she is forced to change their party affiliation, all because of you people.

  20. Safety guy says:

    So then let me understand this. A constitutional right granted to Florida Citizens that was voted for by 64% to amend the constitution in 1998 was passed as a bill and sent to the Governor and signed into law by the Governor. No one in Flagler County Florida was upset enough that anyone formed a group in opposition at that time. Then people who did not live not only in Flagler County, but not even in Florida back in 1998 and moved here afterwards are now upset because the person they support will not get any votes from Democrats or Independents because the constitution was followed, is that correct? Now as I understand it, were a Democrat in the race for the offices where now only Republicans and Write in candidates are, the primary would be open to all, that I have to assume is right also. In one race one Republican candidate ran in 2008 as a Democrat and now as a Republican, as is that candidate’s right to do so. Had this candidate stayed a Democrat they would have the votes of the “40,000” that cannot now vote in the primary. And they would also have the votes of the Republicans that are in support of their campaign, right? So thinking about this one has to inquire as to why would they do this and risk losing those “40,000” potential votes? Makes you think doesn’t it?

  21. Donna Heiss says:

    Lets re-cap the write in candidates in the August 14, 2012 deciding races.

    Clerk of Court:: Paulette Dunkell, 3rd Vice President of the Ronald Reagan Republican Club.

    County Commission District 1: Daniel Bozza Sr. 2nd Vice President of the Ronald Reagan Republican Club

    County Commission District 2: Carole Ruffalo , wife of 1st Vice President of the Ronald Reagan
    Republican Club, John Ruffalo

    Here are the people who have denied the Democrats and Independents their right to vote in this August 14th important deciding election. They all have one thing in common. The Ronald Reagan Republican Club.

    The following is taken directly from The Ronald Reagan Republican Clubs pamphlet under, “Our Principles:”

    “The rights and privileges of our Nation belong to its citizens.”

    Perhaps the Ronald Reagan Republican Club failed to read its literature before they took away the rights of 40,000 Flagler County citizens.

  22. John Boy says:

    After 35 years as a Republican I finally need to change my registration. Between the lies of Romney, Scott, et all, I have had it. The torrists in the Tea Party have taken over what was formerly the Republican Party.

  23. tulip says:

    @Donna Heiss
    Excellent summation and right on!!!!!!!

  24. Robert Lewis says:

    Councilman Bill McGuire –

    You are the first and only elected official to have made any public statemen at all regarding this matter.
    I respectfully ask you to please let your constituents if you condone or condemn this type of behavior going on ?

    The only reason I ask is simply because you are the first to comment on it.

  25. Think first, act second says:

    I am trying to understand what you, Ms. Heiss, are getting at here.
    Your husband lost the 2008 election by almost 6,000 votes, a year when the current President was instrumental in getting other Democrats elected. There were only 46,055 votes cast in the race for Clerk of Courts in 2008. The strategy seemed to be this year that he assumed he could win the same Democrats and Independent votes and split the 26,001 that his opponent received and win the election. I guess he thought he could not win this year either as a Democrat. Now you have stated that 40,000 voters have been disenfranchised when only 6,055 more than that voted in the general election in ’08. Is it your presumption that he would win all 40,000 of these votes, or what makes you think the 40,000 would even vote in this election? If they have no plans to vote, they are not disenfranchised, right?

  26. Linda H. says:

    You may already be aware of this education piece on the SOE Website but I thought I would post it to you in case you were unaware of the extensive amount of information there is on the site if you really have the patience to dig for it!

    Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Office

    Home Voter Education Closed Primary Elections

    These are the three most common ballot styles during a primary election: NonPartisan, Democratic and Republican.
    What Is A Closed Primary?
    Florida is a closed primary state. If you wish to vote in a partisan primary election, you must be a registered voter in the party for which the primary is being held. All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote on issues and nonpartisan candidates in a primary election.
    This is why it is important to indicate your preferred party affiliation at the time you register. If you leave the field blank on the registration form, you will be registered without party affiliation.
    Party Changes
    Party changes must be made by the end of the 29th day before the primary election. For a general election, a party change can be made at any time. A party change must be made in writing, use the Florida Voter Registration Application to change your party affiliation.

    • tulip says:

      @Linda H Yes Florida is a closed primary state, but when the all candidates in a particular race are of one party, then ANY Party can vote in that race. When a WRI enters then it becomes closed.

      You can go to and in the upper left, type in “primaries june 8 2012. I tried to copy and paste the link, but it wouldn’t turn blue so people could just click on it. The same rotten trick is being done there and if you do a search you will find it’s going on all over Florida. Somewhere in all these posts someone inserted the rule in a letter.

      • Linda H. says:

        Tulip, I don’t consider it a rotten trick. I have always voted in my own party’s primary. NOT voting in your own party’s primary is trickery to me.

        In the 08 Presidential election, may changed parties in an effort to knock out the other side’s strongest candidate. It was being done here in Palm Coast like crazy.

        I think most would like to see us return to honest elections, you know….the one where you vote for your own party’s candidate.

  27. Anonymous says:


    I think it that it’s a Potential 40,000 votes. That”s what I presume, As we all know , 40,000 shut out voters, plus the ones that can vote, would be a potential 60,000 + votes. Obviously that many will not vote in this primary. If they all did, it would be an amazing surprise.

    The reality is that the RR club has shut out ANYONE who is not a registered Republican, whether those people were planning on voting or not, and a lot of them are. I would suspect that the Independents would be even more upset, as they vote for the person, not the party. I was an Independent, but have changed to Republican for the moment so that I can vote in these 3 races, along with the other races,, And That’s What This is About—FREEDOM OF CHOICE, no matter what party a person belongs to! Unfortunately it’s been taken away

    • Linda H. says:

      Anonymous: Florida is a closed primary state, as I believe you know. You must be a registered Democrat or Republican to vote in the primary here. Independents and NPAs cannot vote in closed primaries and should have known this when they registered to vote.

  28. tulip says:


    I think it is that it’s a Potential 40,000 votes. That”s what I presume. As we all know , 40,000 shut out voters, plus the ones that can vote, would be a potential 60,000 + votes. That many people are not going to vote, that would be an amazing surprise.

    The reality is that the RR club has shut out ANYONE who is not a registered Republican, whether those people were planning on voting or not, and a lot of them are. I would suspect that the Independents would be even more upset, as they vote for the person, not the party. I was an Independent, but have changed to Republican for the moment so that I can vote in these 3 races, along with the other races,, And That’s What This is About—FREEDOM OF CHOICE, no matter what party a person belongs to! Unfortunately it’s been taken away.

  29. Donna Heiss says:


    Of course I don’t think that. What the injustice here is that 40,000 potential voters had their rights taken away.

    Assuming they would all vote, do I think they would vote for my husband? Of course not. My problem is when they have no voting right at all because The Ronald Reagan Republican Club took it away from them. It works both ways. Why would this club do this when in their literature it goes against what they say?

    It is a damn shame when any citizen is denied their rights whether political or otherwise. Every American has the same rights regardless of political affiliation, race, religion, etc. I will continue to believe in protecting those rights for all. It is the right thing to do as an American.

  30. tulip says:

    @ Rebecca’s June 6 post—–The incumbents in those races didn’t do the WRI. The RR club did it to help their member candidates

  31. tulip says:

    I just had a thought. It has occurred to me that neither the SOE or any of her opponents have come on here to explain some of these rules and regulations. Doing so could be very beneficlal to a SOE candidate, as I would think it would be something he or she would have to learn or know. Just a thought

  32. tulip says:

    @ Linda H June 10 post — When the candidates running in a particular race are of the SAME PARTY, then any party can vote for them–it has nothing to do with trickery, as you call it. The Independent voters vote for whom they think is best, and not the party they belong to, and it’s those voters that can swing things either way, and are important voters.

    To my understanding, a closed primary means that you can’t go to a voting place that day and change party affiliation to something else, and then change it back, on the way back out the door. In Florida, If a person wants to change party, it has to be done within a certain amount of time before the primary
    and then it can be changed back at a later date. Where I originally came from, we could change parties at the voting place on voting day and then change it back immediately. I don’t know it it’s still done that way, as I haven’t kept track over the years.

    The rule has been posted here before somewhere, and I posted about just a up a few posts, who have explained the whole thing also.

    So, the Independent Voters are being intentionally hurt the worst. I’ve noticed on the Election site that the Independent voters are growing more rapidly than either Dems or Rep. That certainly says something. I also noticed that there is only a difference of approximately 8000 voters between the Ind. and the Rep. and the same with the Dems. That to me says the Ind. gaining even more strength in numbers. If RR club isn’t intentionally trying to block people from voting, then why did they put in the WRI’s? That question is also for the clubs all over Florida.

  33. ChristinaMomof3 says:

    I am absolutely disgusted. I am an independent and would like to vote in any election that would decide a race. I will be changing my party to Republican before the 16th so that I can vote in a primary/final election. I can not believe that people are that self serving (a small group at that) that they would take away the voter’s voice in a final election. That is completely taking advantage of the system. I put these people in the same category as those that take state and federal help when they don’t need it by lieing and cheating. What makes you people any different? You people that support this do not deserve to serve the public because your motives and true character have certainly been revealed. You should be ashamed to call yourselves Americans because that is the American way!

  34. Safety guy says:

    Been thinking about this quite a lot. Any Democrat could not vote in the August 14th primary to elect a Republican candidate regardless if they wanted to or not. They can and I would hope support their Democratic candidate, if the Democrats had a candidate to run anyway.

    So then to get the support of the Democrats for a Republican Candidate that ran as a Democrat in 2008 and now comes to 2012 as a Republican is upset because their Democratic Party friends from 2008 cannot vote for them, is that right? So it has been said, if you are a Democrat and you want this Republican candidate to win, you need to forget all about all the Democrat candidates in all the other races and change your voter’s registration to Republican, is that correct? Does any one see the irony here? Don’t you get it? Change to Republican and the Democrats that depend on you for your support have lost you. Sound smart to you?
    Are endorsements important to the voter? They ought to be. Check out your candidate’s endorsements and understand the support from this community and how they see your candidate. That has to account for something doesn’t it?
    Vote in either case!

  35. Safety guy says:

    In a primary it is the registered voter of their own party that votes for their candidates. In the November election it does not matter one bit what party you are registered with/as. You can vote for any candidate, Republican, Democrat, Communist, independent or any others that are on the ballot.

    Again the question has to be asked, why would Democrats switch to vote in a primary for the Republican candidate unless they saw a chance to place a proclaimed Republican that might just be a Democrat as the Republican winner? Talk about motives. Unreal, just unreal.

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