Bundling amendments makes it more difficult for voters to decide

By Aida Vazquez-Soto, OPINION EDITOR
On November 4, 2018

By bundling amendments, voters are forced to chose a priority issue. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Floridians are facing one of the longest and most confusing ballots in a generation.

Outside of electing officials like Senators and a new governor among others, voters this election cycle will be voting on 12 direct amendments to the Florida Constitution, covering topics from taxation to offshore oil drilling and vaping.

While the length is daunting, perhaps more concerning is the bundling that occurred with three amendments. Combining unrelated topics ultimately hurts voters and Florida — it corners voters into debating their priorities and harms Florida by lumping together potentially good and bad policies.

The question of bundling is specific to one of three possible ways of putting an amendment on Florida’s ballot. The first, legislative proposals, and second, citizen initiatives, are exposed to a single subject rule, meaning they can only discuss one topic and propose changes to that topic.

The third way comes via the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), a group approved by Florida voters in the 1960s. Once every 20 years, the group convenes to directly place amendments on the ballot and on every occasion it’s met, the CRC has bundled amendments. In 2018 CRC Chair Carlos Beruff argued that bundling shortens ballots and helps voters.

The trade-off of a mildly shorter ballot in exchange for bundled amendments is a poor one, especially given that topics don’t even have to be mildly related.

For example, Amendment 9 proposes a ban on offshore oil drilling and a ban on workplace vaping. For voters like myself, this will pit concerns for the environment against the belief that workplaces can decide for themselves whether to permit vaping or not. This goes without saying but what does vaping have to do with oil-drilling?

An example of something more concerning than either offshore drilling or vaping is found in the Amendment 11 bundle. The amendment includes lines that would prohibit undocumented citizens from owning property. However, it also includes the retroactive application of changes to criminal law meaning, for example, if recreational marijuana were legalized then people imprisoned for marijuana charges would be able to appeal and reduce their sentences.

People will be simultaneously voting on criminal justice reform policy as well as immigration policy. For many partisan voters, supporting one of these policies will likely mean opposing the other. A vote either way will force questions of priorities and values.

The only way to fix the problems of bundling is by making major structural changes to the way that Floridians decide policy. The simplest fix: the CRC should be subject to the single topic rule. We shouldn’t give bodies like the CRC, which voters have no guaranteed direct contribution to, exceptions to rules that elected groups and citizens must follow.

In the long-run, Florida should consider more drastic changes. By allowing citizens to propose legislation, as opposed to limiting them to constitutional amendments, we could circumvent this election madness and enhance the citizen voice in Florida.

 

Aida Vazquez-Soto is senior majoring in political science.

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

More usforacle News Articles

Recent usforacle News Articles

Discuss This Article

MOST POPULAR USFORACLE

GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY

How do you most commonly view stories from the Oracle

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER

TODAY'S PRINT EDITION

Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Please Select Your College/University:

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
OR
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format