On November 6, 2018, Floridians will march to the ballot box to cast their votes. In addition to electing the next crop of public officials, the ballot tasks Floridians with passing judgment on 13 proposed constitutional amendments. The 13 amendments found on the 2018 ballot represent the highest total in 20 years. Constitutional initiatives play a pivotal role in the governance of the State, and thus warrant a heightened level of scrutiny.
Proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot originate from three specific sources: the Florida Legislature, the citizens of Florida, and the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). Regardless of how a measure makes it to the ballot, all amendments require a 60 percent voting majority to pass. Additionally, each source establishes different hurdles before an amendment can reach the ballot. In the legislature, 60 percent of the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate must agree to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. This year, the Florida Legislature passed three Amendments (1, 2, and 5) to the ballot.
The Florida Constitution also has a mechanism for a citizen initiative petition. Floridians can place proposed amendments on the ballot by gaining at least 766,200 signatures from 14 of the State’s 27 congressional districts (the requirement is eight percent of the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election). Two measures made it to the ballot in this method: Amendments 3 and 4. The final source of ballot initiatives comes courtesy of a group unique to the State of Florida – the Constitution Revision Commission. The CRC meets every 20 years to examine Florida’s Constitution and propose amendments. The 37-member commission spends roughly a year identifying crucial issues across the state. These issues make their way to the ballot via a committee process similar to the method in which the legislature operates. This year, the CRC proposed eight ballot initiatives (Amendments 6 through 13). However, as opposed to other methods, the CRC is not required to have single-subject amendments. Consequently, the Commission chose to combine several initiatives into “bundled” amendments.
As voters and engaged citizens of Florida, it is our civic duty to responsibly educate ourselves on important changes to the Florida Constitution. On the pages that follow, readers can find an analysis of each ballot initiative.