New ballot initiative threatens voter control
Students on campus might be familiar with the paid petitioners that often hang outside the library and the Marshall Student Center (MSC), advocating for a “double elections requirement” for Florida constitutional amendments.
Unfortunately, this effort — designed to limit the ability of the public to influence our government — has found its way onto the ballot in November.
Floridians can currently petition their fellow citizens to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. If approved by 60 percent of voters, the initiative becomes law.
This new amendment would require all future Florida constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election — having to vote twice for the same amendment.
This amendment is nothing more than voter suppression. The last thing we need is to make it more difficult for Floridians to have their voices heard.
The group behind the effort, Keep Our Constitution Clean, claims that Florida has passed too many frivolous amendments since the founding of the Florida Constitution. However, Florida is one of 18 states with this process. The voting system proposed by Keep Our Constitution Clean is by far the outlier, with only Nevada having a similar system.
When Nevada passed their law in 1962, it limited the impact that voters had in amending their constitution, with only 12 amendments being implemented in the following 48 years.
There is also the all-important question of who is funding this effort to weaken the impact of democracy. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Keep Our Constitution Clean has raised $800,000 from undisclosed donors and has paid canvassers often seen around high-traffic public areas like USF. The fact that the measure is on the ballot at all is a testament to the force that those paid canvassers applied.
We don’t know who’s funding this proposal, but there are multiple industries that benefit from limiting the public’s ability to amend the constitution, including changes that can hurt certain industries’ bottom lines.
For instance, Amendment 2 on the 2020 November ballot would raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by the year 2026. Service industries that pay the current minimum wage to their employees benefit tremendously from the status quo.
Florida does not need more roadblocks in the democratic process. Florida should make it easier for people to have their voices heard, and Floridians should reject this amendment.
Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.