In addition to a bevy of down-ballot candidate choices, Florida voters face a decision on six amendments to the state constitution this election. All amendments must pass with a “supermajority,” or a 60% vote.
The Gabber has broken down each amendment, including major arguments for and against each measure.
Find more information on Florida’s candidates and amendments at ballotpedia.org/Florida.
Amendment 1 is a matter of semantics. If passed, Amendment 1 would change two words in Florida’s constitution regarding citizenship requirements to vote.
Florida’s constitution already stipulates that voters should be citizens.
The current constitution states: “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” Amendment 1 would change that language to “Only a citizen of the United States…”
The proposal comes from Florida Citizen Voters, a group that has supported similar measures in Alabama and Colorado, and says they mean to clarify who cannot vote.
Opponents include the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Chapter of the League of Women Voters, which calls it “cloaked in xenophobia and false patriotism.” The groups have expressed concern over “increasingly costly and burdensome verification requirements” for voters.
The editorial boards of five major newspapers in Florida also oppose the measure.
A “Yes” vote supports changing the language to “only a citizen”; a “No” vote maintains the current “every citizen.”
Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.56 an hour. Amendment 2 aims to change the minimum wage incrementally, reaching $15 an hour by 2026. After that, it calls for an annual adjustment based on increases to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
Opponents like the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association say raising minimum wage will force businesses to cut jobs; supporters include the League of Women Voters of Florida, which says, “Florida’s present minimum wage yields $17,800 a year for a full-time worker, which doesn’t come close to a living wage for a family of four.”
It’s worth noting that, in a recent op-ed, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nikki Fried, warned that the Florida Legislature might find a way to subvert the will of the people if the amendment passes, as has happened with the 2014 conservation amendment, a 2016 amendment legalizing medical marijuana and, in 2018, when Floridians voted to restore felons’ voting rights.
“Given what we’ve seen from the Florida legislature,” Fried wrote, “I fear this will be another imperiled approach to impactful change that is desperately needed for working Floridians.”
A “Yes” vote supports the initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage incrementally to $15 per hour in 2026; a “No” vote keeps Florida’s minimum wage at $8.56 per hour.
This one’s a bit tricky. It appears to do away with Florida’s closed primaries at the state level, where only registered Republicans vote in Republican primaries, and only registered Democrats vote in Democrat primaries – but there’s more to it.
What Amendment 3 proposes is replacing closed primaries with “top-two” primaries. Candidates would be on one ballot regardless of political affiliation, and the two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election. Regardless of their political party, any registered voter could vote in the primary.
The amendment was put forth by All Voters Vote, and largely financed by Florida billionaire Miguel “Mike” Fernandez, who said his experience coming to the U.S. from Cuba as a child refugee “showed him what happens when political extremes take power,” according to WUSF.
All Voters Vote says, “Closed primaries are decided by the small, extreme wings of each party… By giving all voters a chance to vote, politicians will become answerable to the majority of voters, not just a select few.”
Opponents of Amendment 3 include both the Democratic and Republican Parties of Florida.
According to WUSF, a political election committee run by former Democratic Florida Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, People Over Profits, reviewed the racial makeup of primary voters and found that if the amendment passes, “four Florida Senate seats would lose their majority Black status and eight Florida House seats would lose their majority Black status.”
A “Yes” vote supports a top-two open primary; a “No” vote leaves the current closed primary system in place. If approved, the new system would begin in 2024.
Amendment 4 asks voters to decide twice. The measure would require a supermajority of voters to approve constitutional amendments in two successive general elections before it passed.
The proposal was put forth by Keep Our Constitution Clean PC, which says it aims to reduce “whimsical constitutional amendments.”
Opponents say that not only does the amendment disrespect the will of the people, but it will make getting new amendments on the ballot far too expensive for all but the richest interest groups.
The ACLU of Florida called it “a cynical political effort to obstruct voters’ ability to pass future constitutional amendments, even those with support from a supermajority of voters.”
Keep Our Constitution Clean PC argues that voters need the “opportunity to fully understand the immediate and future impacts of any proposed changes to our state constitution.”
The editorial boards of six major newspapers in Florida also oppose Amendment 4, with the Tampa Bay Times saying, “This is just another tool for the ruling class to remain unanswerable and out-of-touch.”
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel says “Amendment 4…would be better labeled: ‘The Evil Empire Strikes Back.’”
A “Yes” vote supports requiring two successive supermajority votes to pass constitutional amendments; a “No” vote maintains that one supermajority vote is enough.
Amendment 5 aims to extend the time a person can transfer Save Our Homes benefits to a new homestead property from two to three years.
According to Ballotopedia, the Florida Revenue Estimating Conference determined that approval would reduce local property taxes by $1.8 million beginning in 2021, eventually growing to a $10.2 million reduction annually.
That’s not necessarily that much, says the Miami Herald Editorial Board: “Amendment 5’s opponents fret that approval would reduce local property taxes by as much as $10.2 million. That shouldn’t be a crippling amount when spread statewide.”
Sponsored by Florida Representative Rick Roth (R), the measure passed unanimously in both chambers of the Florida Legislature.
The League of Women Voters of Florida stands in opposition, saying the amendment would “reduce property tax revenue available for funding local schools and other services like police, fire and infrastructure…and limit the ability of local governments to control their budgets based on their county needs.”
A “Yes” vote would allow an extended period to transfer Save Our Homes benefits; a “No” vote would keep the current two-year period.
Amendment 6 proposes allowing a homestead property tax break to go to the surviving spouse of a deceased military veteran, and remain in effect until the spouse remarries or sells the property. Currently, homestead property tax breaks for veterans expire when they die.
Florida Rep. Sam Killebrew (R) sponsored the amendment, which passed unanimously in both chambers of the Florida Legislature.
The editorial boards of all of Florida’s major newspapers support Amendment 6, however the League of Women Voters of Florida makes a case against it, citing the similar reduction in revenue for schools, police, fire and infrastructure that would result from Amendment 5.
The Miami Herald supports the amendment, but calls it “a drop in the bucket, compared to the real needs of Florida’s military families.”
A “Yes” vote supports allowing spouses of deceased veterans to inherit the tax credit; a “No” vote opposes the measure.
The Gabber used information compiled by Ballotopedia and other sources for this article.