The 2020 Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 3
Bottom Line: This is the third in a six-part series covering Florida’s six proposed constitutional amendments for the 2020 Election cycle. Each proposed amendment requires a minimum of 60% support to pass. Here’s how it will appear on the ballot:
No. 3 Constitutional Amendment
BALLOT TITLE: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet
BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.
This proposed Amendment was advanced by “All Voters Vote”. The organization’s name implies the argument they advance for the passage of this Amendment. Florida’s primary system is a closed system. This means one may only vote in a partisan primary election if the voter is registered to a political party, or if the partisan primary election will decide the outcome due to the lack of a general election challenger. Currently 26% of Florida’s registered voters are non-party affiliated voters. Should this Amendment pass they’d be able to participate in the newly created open-primary elections described in the summary.
Quoting All Voters Vote on their advocacy for this amendment: The vast majority of races in Florida are decided in the closed party primaries—which excludes most voters. Those closed primaries are decided by the small, extreme wings of each party. Because of this, our elected leaders no longer have to answer to the majority of people, but only to a very small group of hyper-partisan voters.
Final Thoughts: This proposal is one in which facts could clearly support the arguments for those for and against. That’s the starting point for why a tie doesn’t go to the runner (to coin a baseball phrase) in this case. There’s a reason why the threshold for passing a constitutional amendment in Florida is 60% rather than 50% plus one vote. Changes to our Constitution should be exceedingly compelling. In my view that’s not accomplished by All Votes Vote. Moreover, the principal argument they advance which I cited above (suggesting most voters are excluded), is provably false as 74% of Floridians are registered in a political party. Moreover, there is nothing which precludes any NPA voter from reregistering in a political party to participate in a party primary should they feel compelled to do so. This Amendment is one I view as potentially having merit but without its backers having made the case for its need honestly. Florida’s voters need look no further than the bait and switch methods by the backers of the restoration of felon voting rights amendment of two years ago to see what happens when dishonest brokers win passage of their proposed amendments. For these reasons I recommend a No vote on Amendment 3.