Offended by letter

By Jessica Cohan
Published February 24th 2005 in Osceola News Gazette
To the editor:

I am writing in response to the letter from Elena Kirastoulis that was published in the Feb. 12, 2005 [see below], edition of the Gazette. Until today, I have never been offended by reading the Gazette. Kirastoulis’ letter changed that. To borrow a line from her letter, “This idiocy is so outrageous it is beyond reason, how is one to respond?” The one thing that Kirastoulis and I agree on is that it is difficult to respond to idiocy; however, I am going to attempt to touch on each of the factual inaccuracies and ridiculous positions Kirastoulis has espoused.

First, regarding the history of cumulative voting: Kirastoulis implied that cumulative voting is a recent idea, championed by disgruntled “liberal Democrats” and “socialist minds” that are “feeling totally helpless right now.” Fact: the first documented use of cumulative voting occurred during the Victorian age in South Africa. It was also used in school board elections in England in the late 1800’s, and in the United States, Illinois used a form of cumulative voting from 1870 - 1980 to elect the members of its House of Representatives. The principle reasons for adopting cumulative voting schemes in each of these examples were to protect minority rights, encourage minority representation and give a platform to minority views.

Second, regarding the Constitution and democracy: Kirastoulis asked where the democracy was in cumulative voting and where cumulative voting was in the Constitution. Based on her distorted view of history, my guess would be that Kirastoulis has never even read the Constitution. If she had, she would know that the Constitution leaves the time, place and manner of elections to the states. She would also realize that the United States is not a democracy, but a republic. The framers of the Constitution were concerned with liberty, not democracy. To them, democracy represented unlimited rule by an all-powerful majority, while a constitutionally limited republic was seen as a scheme that would preserve liberty. Since Kirastoulis has such disdain for liberal Democrats, one would think that she, as a conservative Republican, would understand this, as it is crucial to the states’ rights that conservative Republicans are so concerned with.

Third, regarding electing the most qualified candidates and Dr. Fine wanting to give minority elected officials additional votes: No one, not even liberal Democrats, contend that our elected officials should be anyone other than those who are the most qualified. Where we disagree, however, is that I believe the minority, both racial minorities and minority opinions, often do field qualified candidates, but under the current at-large election system, there is not a level playing field and these candidates simply do not have the same chance to be elected.

Further, I believe that a substantively and descriptively representative government is a laudable goal in and of itself and I don’t believe it necessarily follows that less qualified persons would have to be elected to achieve this goal. As to Dr. Fine wanting to give minority elected officials additional votes, all I can say is that this is a perfect example of the “drivel” you speak of in the context of academia. Dr. Fine simply stated what some public bodies have done; she did not advocate for Osceola or any other jurisdiction to do the same.

Finally, despite all I have said in this letter, I do not think cumulative voting is a viable solution to the lack of minority representation in Osceola County. It is a complex system, much more so than our current system, and I believe the amount of voter education needed to properly implement cumulative voting is simply not feasible at this time. However, this is a practical belief, not an ideological one.

To prevent a tyranny of the majority, like that with which our founding fathers were concerned, we need progressive thinkers advocating solutions to our problems. For that I commend Citizens for Florida and Dr. Terri Fine.

Jessica Cohan

Cumulative voting?

To the editor:

Eeeeek. Excuse me while I finish screaming.

Eeeeek. Deep breath … inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Calm down now, the article in a recent Osceola News-Gazette didn’t really say that, did it? I really thought I heard everything, but this, it takes the cake. I know the liberal Democrats are feeling totally helpless right now, with being out of power and all, but this?
The article started off reasonably enough, it even made some sense. That was before I knew what “cumulative voting” meant. Dr. Terri Fine even did a fairly good job at explaining the difference between at-large voting and single-member districts. Explaining it in such a way that anyone would be able to understand. Fortunately, that was as far as I was able to read while I was stuck in traffic on U.S. Highway 192. Good thing the traffic started to move and I was unable to finish reading the article. Talk about road rage if I had.

Where did “cumulative voting” come from? Whose socialist mind was the creator of such nonsense? If I go to vote for, say county commissioner, there are six names on the ballot for three seats and I only like one candidate, I can vote for that one candidate three times. I don’t get it. Where is the democracy in that? Where was this in the Constitution? Where is the fairness? What about electing the best-qualified candidate? Where is representing the community as a whole? I’m stumped. Why are we wasting money on education in this country if this is the drivel professors today come up with to teach the children?
What would happen if these same sets of candidates were running for office and every voter used their three votes for only one popular and qualified candidate, no one wanted to take a chance and have this candidate lose. If everyone in the county only voted for only one candidate, who would be representing the other two seats?

I’m trying to re-read the quotes of Dr. Fine to respond and I’m just shaking my head in awe. Who comes up with this stuff? This idiocy is so outrageous it is beyond reason, how is one to respond? Why is it that the liberals think that the only way a minority can get elected, or even get a job for that matter, is by special consideration? Why is it the liberal Democrats think that the minorities of this country are dumber than the rest of us?

I do not want to be handed an office or a job because of the fact that I’m a woman, Hispanic, black, etc. I want the office or job because I am the best qualified.

Fine wants to give our minority elected officials additional votes? What more do these certain (liberal Democrats) minorities want? First they want to get into office, not by being qualified and right for the job. Oh, no … their only qualification is that they are a minority.

How about searching for and supporting the best candidate who will represent all of Osceola County, regardless of race, color or creed?

Elena Kirastoulis