What is Single District –vs-At Large District, and what does it mean to me?

Monroe County currently votes for members of the B.O.C.C. (Board of County Commissioners) via an election method called AT Large.  At-Large Districts allowing registered voters in Monroe County, regardless of district, to cast a vote for any open BOCC seat.  Candidates or incumbents running for County Commission are required to live within a determined geographical area, a district.  While the candidates or incumbents are required to live within the prescribed district; the votes that determine the election are from the cumulative total of all 5 districts.  

One might say what’s wrong with that?  There would be nothing wrong if we all lived 20 minutes from each other, but that’s not the geography of the Keys.  Monroe County is broken up into 5 districts, spanning a total of 126 miles, not including Mainland Monroe. If a voter in district 1 or 5 has a BOCC representative that does not agree with a local issue, that voter may be required to lobby over 200 miles per trip to express a point of view to the other commissioners.  Many people who have attempted to do the arduous journey are told point blank, “It’s not my district.”

Ask a commissioner about At-Large –vs- Single District, they will explain to you how everyone’s vote counts.  Yes, everyone’s vote counts, but with a Single District your vote holds 400 times the voting power.  Your vote is not diluted between 4 other people who you know little about, and who will do very little to help you resolve your local concerns.  The Key Largo crosswalk is a great example.  Has anyone seen the other 4 commissioners outvoting the district representative to correct an obvious fatal issue of concern?

This is an impractical way to govern a county that spans over 126 miles, and at the end of the day your vote is being diluted.  With enough dilution a district’s votes can be washed out.  How you may ask yourself?  Over several recent election cycles, BOCC representatives have been elected to office that did not win the districts they are REQUIRED to live within. The voters that know them best, do not want their “representation”.

for the Florida Keys