It’s not every day that Democrats and Republicans can agree on an issue, but this election cycle, that’s actually the case. Leaders from both political parties oppose Florida’s controversial Amendment 3 ballot proposal, which would radically alter the state’s primary election system, would create political chaos in the state.
If Amendment 3 is passed this November, it would allow all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet, regardless of political party affiliation. In other words, it eliminates the state’s closed primary system. As one top Republican put it, neither party wants the other to have a hand in choosing their candidates.
“We don’t feel that it’s right that Democrats help choose our nominee in the primary and I don’t think the Democrats would like Republicans helping to choose their nominee in primaries,” said Blaise Ingoglia, former Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. “That’s akin to McDonald’s helping to choose the menu items for Burger King.”
Under the new rules, if passed by 60 percent supermajority of Florida’s voters, 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 the winner would be determined in the general election. The new constitutional amendment would take effect in 2024.
But Republicans and Democrats aren’t the only ones who don’t like the idea: a third party group, People Over Profits, believes the ballot proposal would hurt minorities and underrepresented groups. A statement on the group’s website laid out the underlying reasons for their opposition.
“An unforeseen outcome of this proposal is the loss of minority representation in both legislative chambers.
“Under Amendment 3, both electoral access and representation of people of color would be all but erased. … [t]he inclusion of Republican and independent voters in a Black majority district would allow white Democratic candidates the opportunity to defeat a Black Democrat in the context of a larger general election electorate.
“The amendment would all but eliminate third parties from competing in the November general election.”
The political chaos that could be caused by Amendment 3 also underscores why support is growing for Amendment 4, which is a ballot proposal to “Keep Our Constitution Clean.”
Amendment 4 seeks to reduce the number of controversial “flash in the pan” amendments that make it into the state constitution. Such amendments typically have powerful ramifications that aren’t fully understood or appreciated until years later. But because the constitution requires a supermajority to amend, any radical impacts can take years to correct. Amendment 4 would require new ballot amendments to go through two election cycles to ensure any changes to the constitution are truly demanded by the public, and not knee-jerk reactions to an event or political fad.