Amendment 4, creating a new hurdle for ballot measures, fails with Florida voters

John Kennedy
 
| Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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Florida rejects double vote for amendments on ballot

Amendment 4 fails to gain 60 percent approval to require future constitutional amendments for two votes.

Voters turned back Amendment 4, a measure which would require future constitutional amendments to be approved by voters twice — at successive general elections, where they would have needed at least 60% approval.

Amendment 4, which also had to clear the 60% threshold, was actually being rejected by a majority of Florida voters.

“Over the years, the citizens’ initiative process has enabled Floridians to advance important public policies when politicians in Tallahassee have been unwilling to do so,” said Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters, which opposed the measure.

“The ability to amend our constitution is a right guaranteed to the people of Florida and tonight voters demonstrated that we’re not going to give it up lightly,” he added.

The proposed amendment was backed by a murky organization called Keep Our Constitution Clean, which spent $9 million to hire signature-gathering firms to get on the ballot.

Opponents, including the Florida League of Women Voters and ACLU of Florida, warned that if approved by voters, the new requirement could derail any future amendments by making them jump through two election hoops – increasing the cost and odds for failure.

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“This initiative would effectively kill citizen initiatives in the state of Florida,” said League of Women Voters President Patricia Brigham.

University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett said that by making a measure go through two elections, “it’s going to be a much more expensive process.”

Keep Our Constitution Clean’s money was funneled through a nonprofit of the same name, whose individual donors were not identified.

But federal tax records showed that some of Keep Our Constitution Clean’s earliest financing is linked to Associated Industries of Florida, which lobbies on behalf of the state’s largest industries.

Businesses, generally, are wary of citizen constitutional amendments that bypass the Legislature to enact policies. Corporate interests exert significant control over the Legislature through campaign contributions.

Associated Industries, though, wouldn’t address any behind-the-scenes involvement.

“AIF does not discuss political activity,” said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for both AIF and for Keep Our Constitution Clean.

The campaign pointed out that Florida’s constitution has been amended more than 100 times, while the U.S. Constitution, by comparison, has only been amendment 27 times in more than 200 years.

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2020 elections: Amendment 4 requires two votes for future amendments

There are six amendments on the November ballot. Here’s an explanation of Amendment 4.

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