(The Center Square) – Florida voters will be asked in November to allow all registered voters to cast ballots in an open primary with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election.
The open primary proposal is one of six proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot and one of four put there by citizen-initiated petitioning. It will appear as Amendment 3.
The Florida Supreme Court last week overruled objections by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and – in a rare confluence of bipartisan harmony – the Republican and Democratic state committees and cleared the measure’s proposed ballot language.
In a 4-1 decision, the court determined the wording of Tallahassee-based All Voters Vote’s (AVV) proposed ballot title and summary meets clarity requirements.
The majority opinion states, “The ballot title clearly identifies the subject of the initiative. The ballot summary clearly and unambiguously explains the chief purpose of the initiative, which is to allow all registered voters to vote in primary elections in Florida for state Legislature, Governor and Cabinet.
“Further,” it continues, “the ballot summary explains the details of this change in the primary election process by outlining that if the initiative passes, all candidates for an office will appear on the same primary ballot, and the two highest vote-getters will advance to the general election.”
AVV’s proposal would not apply to U.S. Senate and U.S. representative elections.
“We are very pleased with the court’s decision and look forward to letting all registered voters vote in every taxpayer funded election,” AVV Chairman Glenn Burhans said.
According to the state’s Division of Elections (DOE), as of Friday, AVV had secured more than 776,000 signatures and received more than $6.976 million in contributions – about $6.6 million raised in late 2019 by Miami health-care executive Mike Fernandez.
Florida is one of 12 states with closed party primaries restricting participation only to voters registered with that party.
During the recently concluded 2020 legislative session, lawmakers added two proposed constitutional amendments to the Nov. 3 ballot. Neither have been issued an amendment number.
House Joint Resolution 877, sponsored by Rep. Sam Killebrew, R-Winter Haven, will ask voters to allow the Homestead Property Tax discount be transferred to surviving spouses of deceased veterans, and House Joint Resolution 369, sponsored by Rep. Rick Roth, R-Palm Beach Gardens, will ask voters to extend the Save Our Homes portability period from two to three years.
Lawmakers opted not to adopt House Joint Resolution 301, which would have asked voters to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission. The commission convenes every 20 years to refer constitutional amendments to ballots. It passed the House, 93-25, in January but died in the Senate.
House Joint Resolution 157 would have asked voters to limit elected members of the state’s 74 public-school boards to no more than eight consecutive years in office. It passed the House, 79-39, in February but also died in the Senate.
In addition to Amendment 3, the other three citizen-initiated measures are:
• Amendment 1: Florida Citizen Voters’ proposal would amend language in the state constitution from “every citizen of the United States” can vote in federal, state, local or school elections to “only citizens of the United States” can vote.
• Amendment 2: Florida For A Fair Wage’s “Fight for $15” measure calls for raising the state’s minimum wage from $8.46 an hour to $10 an hour in September 2021, with $1-an-hour increases annually until it reaches $15 in 2026.
• Amendment 4: Keep Our Constitution Clean‘s measure would require any voter-approved constitutional amendment approved by more than 60 percent of voters in one general election do so again in a second general election to be encoded into the constitution.