Posted by Guest on October 14, 2016 in Blog

Hanging_chad.jpgBy Mahamad Omar

It has been 16 years, 16 years now since the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore effectively decided the closest election in our nation’s history. The result of the election hinged on Florida. The margin of victory triggered a mandatory recount, where under 200 votes in the state would decide the contest between the two candidates.

Litigation in select counties started additional recounts, and this litigation ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court in the Bush v. Palm case. In that case, the Court ruled 7-2 that there was an Equal Protection Clause violation in using different standards of counting the votes in different counties. And in the Bush v. Gore case a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling decided that no alternative method could be established within the time limit set by Title 3 of the United States Code (3 U.S.C.), § 5. The original certification of George W. Bush’s victory in Florida stood, by the slimmest of margins. Studies have reached conflicting opinions about who would have won the recount had it been allowed to proceed.

Many voter registration campaigns reach out to communities with the spirited message that “every vote matters.” In Florida, this slogan carries weight. The history of the 2000 presidential election brings to light how definitive the state’s votes will be in deciding which candidate becomes the next president. The winners of 12 of the last 13 presidential races carried Florida. And in the simplest of terms, it is the swing-state with the most electoral votes at stake.

The Democratic and Republican nominees for President understand these truths. For Donald Trump, Florida is an absolute necessity for him to reach 270. Without it, analysts say he will lose the election. Both candidates and their surrogates have campaigned in the state extensively. Two-city and three-city swings through Florida have become the norm since the summer for Trump and Clinton. The latest polls show Clinton at 47.0% to Trump’s 44.0%, within the 4.2% margin of error.

Apart from the presidential race, Florida is home to a key Senate race. Incumbent Republican Senator Marco Rubio is in a close race against Democratic nominee Representative Patrick Murphy. Some of the latest polls show Senator Rubio ahead of Representative Murphy 48% to 44%, but within the 4.2% margin of error. There are also several key Congressional races, including Representative Murphy’s now-vacant district. Given these Congressional races, along with the presidential race, Florida may play a larger role in deciding the direction of the country than any other state.

In our #YallaVote campaign, we urge Arab Americans to make a difference on issues that matter to all America by voting. Florida voters can play a large part in achieving this ideal. Check out our Florida voter guide and remember, every vote matters. 

Mahamad Omar is a Fall 2016 Intern at the Arab American Institute.