Common Cause Florida Opposes Ballot Initiatives 1 & 4

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Common Cause Florida today announced its opposition to ballot initiatives numbers 1 and 4 and characterized the amendments as an attack on suffrage and democracy.

“Our democracy works best when every eligible voter is able to exercise their right to vote and know their voice is heard,” said Anjenys Gonzalez-Eilert, executive director of Common Cause Florida. “What we are seeing in Florida is a systematic attack on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and propose ballot initiatives that improve our democracy.”

OPPOSE: No. 1 Constitutional Amendment Article VI, Section 2: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

Amendment 1 amends the Florida Constitution to state that “only” United States citizens who are at least 18 years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election. The Florida Constitution currently says “every citizen of the United States who is at least 18 years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state may register and vote. Like all state constitutional amendments, it requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

“This amendment is unnecessary, unpatriotic and an ugly attack on democracy,” Gonzalez-Eilert said. “The purpose of this amendment is to whip up racist and anti-immigrant sentiments. The truth is only citizens are eligible to register to vote already per the constitution.”

OPPOSE: No. 4 Constitutional Amendment Article XI, Sections 5 and 7: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

Amendment 4 requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the Florida Constitution to be approved by the voters in two general elections — instead of one — in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current 60 percent threshold — the highest in the nation — for passage in each of two successive elections.

“It’s already hard enough to get a proposed amendment on the ballot, but if Number 4 passes, it’s likely that only special interest groups with a lot of money and backing from powerful political operatives would be able to amend the Florida constitution,” Gonzalez-Eilert said. “This amendment makes it twice as hard and twice as expensive for grassroots organizations to bypass the State Legislature and affect change. One election is enough. We need to protect the right for an organized citizenry to directly amend the state constitution. This amendment is nothing more than a cynical attack on people’s ability to pass grassroots reform.”

Common Cause Florida warns voters to not confuse the “Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments” with the “Voting Restoration Amendment” initiative, an amendment to the Constitution of Florida passed by ballot initiative on November 6, 2018.

Both initiatives are known as Amendment 4 but they have opposite effects on democracy. The Voting Rights Restoration initiative restored voting eligibility to an estimated 1.4 million returning citizens. “The Amendment 4 that voters see on this year’s ballot suppresses voting rights and is an attempt to confuse voters and get them to vote against their values and own best interest,” Gonzalez-Eilert said

Common Cause Florida is not taking a position on Amendment No. 3:  All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet due to the need for further study of alternatives to the current closed primary system.

See More: Voting & Elections