Liberal activist groups and their newspaper editor-allies, and out-of-state special interests who manipulate the state constitution for political gain, are all urging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to veto House Bill 5. In editorials published around the state, they claim petition signature fraud isn’t a serious issue and label the bill an “unfunded mandate” on county elections supervisors. FloridaPolitics.com publisher Peter Schorsch even went so far as to claim the bill somehow tramples the First Amendment right to petition the government.
Those arguments are all complete nonsense. Petition signature fraud is a serious issue. Elections supervisors whining about being given new tools to protect the integrity of their work should get little sympathy from anyone. And naive arguments that there have only been a handful of complaints filed in Florida the past few years are easily countered with stories around the nation where real people are being prosecuted for exactly those things. The fact that Florida is the third most populous state in the nation and we haven’t uncovered widespread signature-gathering fraud should be a red-flag that our state’s petitioning process lacks serious accountability. Custody of petition signature forms in Florida is currently impossible to audit, let alone investigate and prosecute.
Finally, despite Peter Schorsch’s outlandish claims, the bill does nothing to alter anyone’s “right to petition their government.” Such nonsense can be dismissed as a calculated but logically and legally flawed attempt to appeal to DeSantis’s conservative views on constitutional primacy.
No, the real reason liberals and their allies hate HB5 is because it tightens security controls on signature gathering efforts, makes it easier for state officials to audit signature gathering efforts, and allows elections officials to refer certain cases to the state attorney general’s office for investigation and enforcement.
Everything that liberals hate about voter ID laws and tighter ballot box security are the same reasons they hate HB5.
The reason lawmakers passed the bill in the first place is because out-of-state special interest groups are trying to turn Florida into California. It’s no coincidence that one of the worst firms operating in California has been accused of wrongdoing in seven different states, including workers convicted of fraud in Florida.
Democrats and their allies are howling about HB5 for one reason: they abhor accountability, which is exactly what HB5 will install into Florida’s lacking constitutional amendment process. Activist groups spend millions of dollars every election cycle paying out-of-state companies to hire signature gatherers, folks typically encountered in grocery store parking lots begging people to sign their petition to change the state constitution. Many citizens, in a hurry, have no idea what they are signing, just wanting to go on with their day. But in many documented cases, paid signature gatherers, trying to earn a few extra bucks, either hide the truth about the impact of a particular amendment, or simply forge signatures.
Florida is not alone this year in cracking down on petition signature fraud. Florida’s bill, which requires paid petition gatherers to register with the state, doesn’t even go as far as six other states that already shut down per-signature payments that incentivize fraud: Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Wyoming. Meanwhile, Maine and Massachusetts are considering pay-per-signature bans.
Governor DeSantis would do all Floridians a great service by making it harder for out-of-state special interest groups, fraudsters and political operatives to manipulate the petition process for political gain. Signing HB5 would introduce common sense security measures designed to protect voters and the state constitution, and provide elections officials with badly needed auditing tools designed to aid investigations into suspected cases of petition signature fraud.
Right on! These out of state petitioners commit gross amounts of fraud and don’t have to live in Florida under the slimy liberal agendas they help propagate! Get them out!
In a nutshell: conservascum know that the people of Florida are liberal enough to pass many of these liberal amendments, they want their minority views forced on everyone thus they want the constitution to be unchangeable by the people.
Lets be honest. Placing a ban on paying per signature is probably a good idea. Removing incentives for fraudulent behavior is reasonable. However, lets not pretend the intent of HB 5 is about reducing fraud, it’s about slowing down the progressive ballot measures that Republicans dodn’t like. Felons, pot, solar energy, minimum wage? Good gracious mom, the socialists and druggies will burn down the state! It is also about the legislature jealously guarding its power. We can’t have the peasants out there thinking and voting for themselves, that’s a cabal reserved for politicians and their sugar daddy lobbyists. It also isn’t about preventing “out of state money and interests” from tampering with the FL constitution. You would have to be a real moron to be unaware of the fact that the majority of your politicians are getting campaign and PAC money from out of state. And a bigger moron to think the lobbyists lined up to talk to your representatives are from Florida and represent the interests of Florida. That said, the Gov. should sign HB 5. He should sign it because it will make ballot measures so expensive that ONLY big money special interests and professional signature gathering firms will be able to AFFORD to get a measure on the ballot. Rather than putting the initiative system back into the hands of citizens, where it was intended to be, it will be SOLELY in the hands of big money donors. That kind of situation is destined to fail, destined to cause resentment and outcry, and destined to hurt the stooges who proposed HB 5. Lets sign it!
Either the author, Brian Burgess, is willfully trying to deceive the reader or his ignorance is showing… There isn’t rampent signature fraud in the Great State of Florida because ALL 67 County Supervisor of Elections office’s literally hand verify the signatures of each and every signed petition form. Our State already has the best practices to prevent signature fraud on Ballot Initiative forms! This article fear-mongers the reader to believe a lie in hopes of encouraging our Governor to betray the Oath he swore upon while honorably serving in our Country’s military. Or the more recent oath he swore on, the “Oath of Office” he affirmed upon becoming our Governor. Brian Burgess, you are shameful! Even the photo you led your “fake-news” opinion article with is a lie. Florida petitions only contain ONE signature per petition form. Sir, you and your baseless “opinion” are a “clear & present danger” to our both our State and US Constitution(s). An apology is called for here…
“Florida’s 2018 ballot originally had a total of thirteen (13) proposed Amendments, but twelve (12) Constitutional Amendments were ultimately before voters to decide. Eleven (11) out of the twelve (12) Amendments passed, some with, or nearly with a supermajority approval by the Florida electorate. The Florida Legislators, led by prominent Republicans, placed three (3) of the twelve (12) Amendments on the 2018 ballot, questions 1, 2, & 5. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission, the 37-member Commission that was appointed mainly by Governor Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders. The FL CRC attempted placing a total of eight (8) of the proposed initially thirteen (13) Amendments on our ballot, questions 6 thru 13, but our previous State Supreme Court rejected question 8 prior to the election which resulted in seven FL CRC initiated questions for voters to decide, 6, 7 & 9-13. However, in 2018, Citizen Ballot Initiatives only accounted for two (2) of the twelve (12) Amendments presented on our ballot for voters to decide, questions 3 & 4, and despite massive Republican opposition to both, questions 3 & 4 still passed by large margins.
Even when considering the 2016 ballot which had a total five (5) Amendments presented for voters to decide. Three (3) of the five (5) were filed by our Republican-led legislature, questions 3, 4, & 5. And again, the Citizen Initiated ballot proposals only accounted for two (2) Amendments on our 2016 ballot, questions 1 & 2, but only question 2 passed, and it passed by a whopping 71% of our electorate.”
My point is this, despite many within the Republican Party falsely claiming HB 5 is needed to preserve the “integrity” of our State Constitution, in fact, HB 5 is the only real threat our State Constitution is facing. The Citizen Ballot Initiative is the only opportunity for the people themselves to “instruct their representatives” (FL Section 5, Article 1) and exercise our God-given Right to self-governance. Therefore, ANY obstruction to or infringement of Florida’s Citizen Ballot Initiative via State Initiated Law must be vetoed to preserve, protect, and defend our State Constitution. Brian Burgess, apologize for seeking to violate Florida’s Constitution or risk forever being viewed as a Traitor!
You don’t even include a real name? You are ignorant of the manner in which Florida’s Ballot Initiatives are processed. There isn’t enough fraud to even attempt filing charges, let alone warrant making laws to violate our US First & Florida’s Article 1, sections 4 & 5, or Article 3, section 6. The author lied about the chain of custody being untraceable because ALL Florida petitions collected by “paid circulators” already have their name & address on the bottom of each signature they collect or they don’t get paid. If fraud were happening, the State can easily find and prosecute the cilprits.
You do know Florida is a majority Conservative state and has been for years, right? We only recently started getting more liberal voters as they moved here from liberal states to escape horrible policies, high taxes and over -regulation. Upon arrival, liberals then turn around and vote for the same crap politics they ran away from in the first place! When will liberals figure out that their politics are the problem? Everywhere liberals go, there they are and chaos, high taxes and ridiculous bureaucracy follow! Grow up and take responsibility for your part in ruining everything you touch.
HB5 is about limiting the power of the individual. This crap about forged signatures is something that happens equally… on both sides of the political dogmatic aisle. Ballot initiatives are for the people. Unfortunately, lazy people who lay around and let other people run the show are in the majority in the south. I should know… I grew up here.
The FLORIDA House voted 105-0 to pass the amendment. While out-of-state special interest groups will find new ways to attempt to influence our Constitution, this fact does not mean we should leave a door wide open.
As to Leslie Adam’s above comment, I submit a recent quote from June by Florida’s favorite stock broker extraordinaire Mal Berko:
“The problem with most folks retiring to Florida from high-tax states is, when you vote as Floridians, you vote for the same bloody politicians who raised your taxes in California, New Jersey, Illinois, etc. Stay there.”
Yet out of state special interests are what literally get these corrupt politicians elected! GET A DAMN CLUE! LOOK IT UP! A MAJORITY OF THEIR CAMPAIGN DONATIONS COME FROM OUT-OF-STATE DONATIONS! FUNNY HOW THIS BILL DIDN’T DO A DAMN THING TO PROHIBIT OUT-OF-STATE POLITICAL CAMPAIGN DONATIONS…
Oh yea and people come here for the WEATHER, not the politics. Again, get a damn clue. My ultra liberal grandparents moved here because they couldn’t deal with the cold, not because they wanted a political change. They were very happy with the New Jersey political system, they hated President Bush and grew to hate Governor Bush as well. No one moves here for the politics, they move here because its the only damn state in the nation where there is zero snow.
NO ONE MOVES HERE FOR THE POLITICS!!! If that were the case, they would move to a far more conservative secure state like Texas. People move to Florida because it is the only state in the nation with summer temperatures and no snow year-round. GET A CLUE.