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SRQ DAILY Nov 14, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Political activism is so important to me because it is the most substantial way to create change in our society. "

- Marina Sidlow, New College of Florida
 

[Under The Hood]  Recounts Birth Reforms
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Among those professionals who count votes for a living, there’s always a secret hope for elections to be landslides. Close elections stress our democracy — in every sense of the word. I learned this early in my career, taking a job out of college covering politics for my hometown paper in easy-to-overlook Lake County, Florida in the year 2000.

We didn’t write much about the presidential election there. The high point was supposed to be when Dick Cheney swung through The Villages. But most readers would guess how the race came to dominate life after the vote was in. The next 36 days saw recounts and court fights which turned every county elections office into a battlefront in an internationally watched democratic war. In the end, George W. Bush won the state by 537 votes over Al Gore, securing the necessary electoral votes for president.

As America watches another presidential election, one not nearly as close but still creating work for election attorneys, recounts are once again in the news with cries for scrutiny, courtroom maneuvering and, inevitably, skepticism among those whose candidate came up short. Friday saw networks call the final states, with Joe Biden’s total at 306 electoral votes and Donald Trump’s at 232, but many of his supporters doubt the results. Beyond the desperate hope for an impossible turnaround on which many, including Trump himself, continue to cling, this close election created fresh headaches for elections officials in states won by less a percentage point. Florida managed to avoid running that gantlet. But perhaps this election, like 2000, can yet produce positives for democracy.

Election reform is hard. Those who make decisions about our laws are chosen using systems that may be flawed, but it’s difficult to explain that to those emerging victorious. But after 2000, Florida had no choice. We had flawed voting systems — hanging chads anyone? When votes were challenged, there were subjective rules. And when decisions were made, it proved difficult for everyone not to judge merits based on which candidate benefitted.

Lawmakers in Florida later developed stricter, more uniform rules for how people vote and disputes get settled. No reforms are perfect, but there were suddenly rules when recounts get triggered, by hand and by machine. A roadmap for challenging results was developed.

Two years ago, that system faced its greatest test since 2000 as Florida held three statewide recounts, including for Governor and Senate. Problems still arose. It took too long to count an uncertain number of ballots in large Florida counties, and poor ballot design in Broward may have impacted the Senate race in ways we can only wonder, the same as the butterfly ballot 20 years ago. Issues were litigated in court. But for the most part, results were clean and clear, albeit close.

New problems were exposed this year in other states. The pandemic forced everyone to offer vote-by-mail. Florida has offered no-questions absentee and early voting for more than a decade. Other states made it up on the fly. And while Florida learned long ago to count mail ballots before polls close, many states put the large stack last in the vote pile. But all this can be fixed, by the state or through federal guidelines. Accuracy must never be compromised by speed when counting votes, but rules everyone agrees upon in advance can ensure final counts faster, leaving less time for speculation.

Every crisis provides an opportunity. Leaders must take advantage of this one.

Oh and by the way, thanks to Florida being able to provide detailed results in a timely fashion, SRQ can provide its analysis more quickly as well. Our Where The Votes Are  ZOOM analysis of the general election will be held this coming Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 8:30am. Mark your calendars—your choice whether you use a pencil or a Sharpie.

Click here to register for the November 19th Where the Votes Are virtual presentation.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

Image courtesy Wikimedia

[Higher Education]  Politically Active New College Students Made Us Proud
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

Civic engagement is part of the New College ethos. Throughout our six-decade history, our campus community has been known for its political initiative and engagement. We’ve even won awards for it.

And this year—during one of the tensest election cycles in modern history, not to mention in the middle of a pandemic—our students represented New College with incredible passion. They rallied their peers. They raised awareness. They reeled in votes.

“I haven’t met a student yet at New College who isn’t passionate about the most recent political issues,” says Cristiana Feazell, a second-year student involved in the nationwide Campus Vote Project—a voter education program coordinated through New College’s office of Student Activities & Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE).

“New College, as an institution, supports the intellectually curious, and that leaves room for students to be engaged politically in multiple ways,” says SA[u]CE Assistant Director Jada McNeill. “One of the earliest things I learned from working at New College is how big advocacy is for students. I really do learn a lot from students about what’s happening locally, nationally and globally.”

Jada is absolutely right, and the world has noticed. Our students have won numerous awards for their political initiative and voter turnout. Two years ago, New College received national accolades from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for its high level of student voting during the 2018 election (nearly two-thirds of students voted). We earned a platinum seal from ALL IN for achieving a student voting rate above 50%, as well as three “Best in Class Awards” for the highest voting rate among all participating small, public, four-year institutions.

This fall, McNeill has been nudging students to further amplify their voices in political matters, reminding them that the largest share of eligible voters in 2020 have come from the Millennial or Generation Z age group. She and her staff created New College’s Voting Information Center and partnered with TurboVote to make it easier than ever for students to register, gather absentee ballots and meet primary deadlines.

Marina Sidlow, a second-year student, helped host a semi-virtual event for National Voter Registration Day in September—inspiring students to vote as the fall semester at New College began.

“Seeing student participation in activism at New College has given me a lot of hope for the future of our society—whether it be students organizing groups to attend a local protest or creating our own protests on campus for school-related issues,” Sidlow says. “Political activism is so important to me because it is the most substantial way to create change in our society. As individuals, we may not feel like we have a lot of power to bring about real social change, but we cannot ignore the power of the vote in bringing about that change.”

Rory Renzy, a thesis student in political science and economics, is the chapter president of Democracy Matters at New College. With the campus chapter of the nonpartisan national student group, Renzy has coordinated petitioning efforts focused on getting corporate money out of politics, and he has organized on-campus events to engage students in topics such as ranked-choice voting and open primaries. He also led an effort to collect petitions across campus for Florida’s “Say Yes to Second Chances” campaign for voter rights restoration, which succeeded and appeared on the November 2018 ballot.

“I know a lot of students, myself included, can feel powerless at times, especially when they come into contact with powerful interests that seem to get their way all of the time. But I think the political tide is turning a little bit, and young people are actively aware of the pull they can have in politics, which is reassuring and inspiring in many ways,” Renzy says. “I really find pride in going to a school that has won national awards for voter registration and turnout for a college campus. New College has a lot of political energy that, when channeled in the right ways, can be a force to be reckoned with in the local community.”

I couldn’t agree more. I believe wholeheartedly in our students. Every day, they are making our world better. And they are making us so proud.

Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

Image courtesy New College of Florida.



[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Monthly: Beer Garden Bazaar Night Market , July 31 – December 25, 6pm-11pm

Join us in the Motorworks Beer Garden every last Friday for our monthly “Beer Garden Bazaar” Night Market featuring local makers showcasing their original arts, handmade crafts and one-of-a-kind goods, plus live music from 7-11pm, food trucks, delicious craft brews (of course) and extensive wine & cocktail offerings. Invite your friends, swing on by the Beer Garden and mingle with a drink in hand while perusing tons of awesome local wares. Eat, shop and drink the night away under the glow of the moon and beautifully lit old oak tree. Family & Pet Friendly Free Event.

Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West Bradenton, Florida 34205

[SOON]  HEALTH: Monthly: Beer Garden Yoga at Motorworks Brewing , July 21 – December 29, 7:45pm

Join Motorworks Brewing every Tuesday night at 7:45pm in the spacious outdoor Beer Garden for a one hour, all-levels yoga flow led by RYT Rachael Croll from Salty Buddha Co. Spread out your yoga mats in the fresh, open air of Florida’s Largest Beer Garden then, once safely distanced, stretch out your body, mind & soul… one delicous, cold beer at a time. Classes are just $10 and include a complimentary core four pint (V Twin Vienna Lager, Intellectual Property Ale IPA, Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Midnight Espresso Coffee Porter or Rollcage Red Ale). No sign-up required; you can just show up before the class begins & sign-in/pay at the brewery. Please bring your own mat to practice on, invite all your friends, and come vibe out in our spacious Beer Garden with like-minded souls and recharge during a relaxing hour under the stars.

Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West Bradenton, Florida 34205

[SOON]  GALLERY: Online: 2020 Annual Ringling College Faculty Exhibition , September 4 – November 27, This exhibition is being hosted online.

This digital exhibition features recent work by accomplished faculty currently teaching at Ringling College of Art and Design. Featuring a dizzying array of media and artistic styles that reflect the breadth of art practices, this exhibition provides an important opportunity for art faculty members to share their work with students, colleagues, and the community.

Ringling College Galleries, Online—this exhibition is being hosted online.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Online Learning Labs: Mote Marine High School Program , October 7 – December 2

Mote’s Learning Labs are a series of virtual, interactive college and career preparatory labs that will provide students the opportunity to develop and hone professional skills for future STEM careers. Participants will gain basic knowledge in marine science concepts and experience in lab/field work. Additionally, marine science professionals will introduce participants to a variety of career opportunities and conduct career explorations. The intention of this program is to offer participants a head start toward their future goals in STEM and advance the next generation of STEM professionals. Learning Labs take place monthly on Wednesdays from 5pm to 8pm, via secure Zoom webinar. Registration for each Learning Lab is $10 and covers all necessary materials for your session.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Online: Ringling College: 2020 Annual Staff + Continuing Studies Instructors Exhibition , September 4 – November 27
In addition to contributing to the day-to-day campus operations, Ringling College has a dedicated staff of studio artists. Collectively, their work represents a wide range of concept and material approaches. Join us as we celebrate exciting new works by Ringling College staff members, and instructors from Ringling College Continuing Studies and the Englewood Art Center in this fascinating digital exhibition.

Online, Online

[SOON]  MUSIC: The Academy A Homeschool Hub at Music Compound , August 3 – December 31, 8:30am-4pm

Music Compound is officially launching a new program,  The  Academy, for grades 3-8, that offers core curriculum through Florida Virtual School and then afternoon electives in the arts. The registration deadline is July 31. Education Session (Education Coordinator position) is offered daily from 8:30am to Noon Monday through Thursday. Students have the option to attend two, three or four days a week. This portion is being offered with Florida Virtual School. Deadline to register is July 31st. Lunch and relaxation time offered daily from Noon to 1:00pm and available to FULL day students only. Students will have time to enjoy lunch and outdoor play. The last 20 minutes will be reserved for quiet time. Our team will offer yoga or meditation sessions. Students can opt to read a book, nap, or check out in another capacity. Enrichment Session is arts related. (Elective and credit based) and offered daily from 1:00 to 4:00pm Monday through Thursday. The afternoon session will include a daily afternoon snack break for students. The afternoon sessions are based on interest. Afternoon classes sizes will range from 6-12 students per class. Classes that have more than 6 students will be hosted in our large 3,000 sq. ft. event venue. Electives are One hour and 20 minutes per session. Electives are offered quarterly, by semester, or yearly. Courses offered: Art, Dance, Drama, Music / Group Instruction / Music Theory / Music Appreciation, Musical theatre / Show Choir, Band program (Kidz Rock, Rising Stars, Youth Bands) and Career Exploration.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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