Florida Amendment 3: A change to top-two open primaries

On November 3, 2020, Florida voters will not only be voting on who they would like to see be their next President of the United States, their next Congressperson, or their next State Senator or State House Rep, there are 6 amendments. The amendments would change Florida’s Constitution if we pass them. They need a 60 percent supermajority of votes for a proposed amendment on the ballot to change the state’s Constitution.

One such amendment is Amendment 3 would change Florida’s primary voting from closed to open so voters would vote for whoever they wish regardless of party affiliation, just like the general election. The title of Amendment 3 is “All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet.” Amendment 3 reads, “Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. 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 winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.

If passed, Amendment 3 would give Florida voters, regardless of political affiliation, one ballot with all the candidates for each public race listed and the top-two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election. If passed, the new process would start with the 2024 primaries.

The measure has been forth by All Voters Vote and Open Primaries. Opposition to this measure is by both the Democratic Party of Florida and the Republican Party of Florida as it reduces the power they have over the voters. Both of the old parties argued in court to keep the proposal off the ballot for Florida citizens to vote on. The Democratic Party of Florida argued that the measure’s ballot language is misleading, confusing, and violates the state’s single-subject rule. The Republican Party of Florida argued, “”Masquerading as an ‘open primary’ proposal that would allow all registered voters to vote in the current party primary system, the proposed amendment would actually abolish party primary elections for certain offices and replace them with free-for-all ‘jungle primaries.’ At the same time, the proposed amendment would limit voters’ options at the general election to two—and only two—candidates, and eliminate any guarantee that voters will be provided a true choice at the general election between nominees representing different political parties or ideological perspectives on significant matters of public policy.” The party also argued that the ballot language is misleading and violates the state’s single-subject rule.” When this measure has been proposed in California and Washington, the Libertarian Party in those states opposed changing to a top-two open primary system.

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Meanwhile, Open Primaries argues that no American should be required to join a political party to exercise their right to vote. All Voters Vote has spent just under $7 million on the measure while Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez has donated just under $6 million on the effort.

If Amendment 3 passes, it would allow the 3.8 million Florida voters who are either NPA (no party affiliation) or registered with a minor party to particpate in the other old party’s primary elections.

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