Broward’s Undemocratic Democratic Primaries


Welcome to Broward County, where primaries are democratic with a Big “D”.

Only Democrats need apply. 

Most elections are decided in the Democratic primary, where only registered Democrats can cast ballots. 

Republicans?  Independents, the fastest growing category of registered voters?

They don’t count.

And they won’t count when it comes to picking who will be the next:

  • Sheriff (seven Democrats running),
  • Clerk of the Courts (five Ds running),
  • Supervisor of Elections (four Ds running), 
  • State Attorney (seven Ds running) and,
  • Public Defender (four Ds running).

With that many Democrats running for each office, the successful candidates will win with only a small number of votes.

Let’s look at the race for sheriff.

With seven candidates dividing up a fraction of the Democrats who vote, the next sheriff could win with less than 70,000 votes. 

Clerk of the Courts Brenda Forman won the primary three years ago with 50,866 votes in a field of three. That’s a tiny fraction of the voters in Broward — less than 5 percent  —  and is far from a resounding show of support. 

Brenda Forman

What is responsible for this undemocratic travesty? 

Blame Broward’s one party rule by Democrats.* 

Blame the state’s closed primary law.

Closed primaries disenfranchise roughly half of Broward’s voters by prohibiting Republicans and Independents from voting in the Democratic primary. And the Democratic primary is the only election which counts in most Broward local races.  

Relief may be on the way.

It wouldn’t help in next year’s races, but it’s a start.

The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow all registered voters in Florida—including the 3.2 million who are not major party members—to vote in some primaries.

The amendment would cover only primaries for governor, the cabinet and Legislature. 

The amendment would work like this: 

There would be one primary with all the candidates for each office on the ballot. Candidates would be allowed to list their party affiliations. 

The first and second place candidates in each primary race would win a place on the November ballot.

“Needing to attract votes among those 3 million-plus NPAs and minor party members would have a moderating effect on both parties. Republicans could no longer run hard to the right, Democrats could no longer pander to the farthest left part of their party, as candidates in both parties do now to get nominated,” Bill Cotterell, long-time journalist in the state Capital wrote in the Tallahassee Democrat. 

The opposition? 

The leadership of both major parties.

“They like the system the way it is because they worked for years – decades – to make it that way,” Cotterell wrote.

Bill Cotterell

It is the Democratic leadership in Broward and a handful of consultants who like the system the way it is. They have learned to manipulate it.  

“I don’t have to care about anybody but the few Democrats who show up in primaries,” one candid consultant told me. 

There are a lot of hurtles to clear before the amendment is law:

  • The Supremes must approve the ballot language.
  • The sponsors must get 766,200 signatures statewide to place it on next year’s ballot.They currently have a little more than half, according to news reports. 
  • The amendment must then be approved by 60 percent of the voters.
  • The Legislature must then pass laws implementing the amendment. 

Currently, it may be called the Broward Democratic Primary.  

But it surely is not democratic when it disenfranchises half of the county’s voters from choosing the next sheriff and other important offices.


*Many other Florida counties have one party rule by Republicans, which is the same perversion of democracy.

8 Responses to “Broward’s Undemocratic Democratic Primaries”

  1. An attorney who practices statewide says:

    The worst clerks office in the entire state

  2. Bob says:

    Make each political party reimburse the Supervisor of Elections for the cost of their primaries — which are essentially private affairs. You’ll see the parties change their tune if they have to pay for this miscarriage of democracy.

  3. FDRidiculous says:

    Democrtic dominance of this county is indicative of how out of step it is with the rest of Florida. Broward politics is ridiculous

  4. A reader says:

    Slang dictionary: SNAFU “Situation Normal All F’d UP”. Can be used as an adjective to describe the process of electing candidates in Broward County, FL.

  5. NPA Voter says:

    Why shouldn’t NPA (Florida doesn’t have Independent, just No Party Affiliation) voters in Florida help decide an election? Just because we’re not tied to the 2 mainstream parties doesn’t mean our voices don’t count. It does and it will continue to do so.

    Maybe if both mainstream parties got their act together, we’d have faith in one of them. In the mean time……

  6. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    I agree Primaries are expensive and needless.Here in Ft.lai they just changed it where no more Primaries.In other words if 2 ,3 whatever run it’s winner take all.( I love it).Also all city etc elections should coincide with the Nationals.Which is what we also in Ft.Lau.This way with no Primary and having election on say a presidential election u will save money.Badically putting the elections in big basket.Come November of 2020 should be quite interesting.With no Primary and coincide with the president election will be a huge success.Good luck to all canidates.

  7. Patti Lynn says:

    Really????? Democratic influence can’t be that important. There is only ONE statewide elected Democrat in office, Nikki Fried. The FloriDUH legislature, cabinet, and governor’s office are controlled by Republicans. If a candidate runs as a Democrat, let Democrats CHOOSE who wins. In the general election, EVERY voter, regardless of political affiliation, is allowed to vote. Do YOU want to pick the Democrat? Then join the Democratic Party. If you’d prefer a Republican, join their party.
    This is a Trojan Horse proposal, designed to continue the State’s reputation as FloriDUH!!!

  8. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    If Broward were R dominant you’d hear the Ds demanding open primaries! The Ds have created a system that produces Snipes, Israel, the school board majority etc. I guess it has to get worse before the voters wake up.