Florida Voting Primer: The six constitutional amendments on November ballot

In the United States, each state has its own written constitution as the document governing the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. It describes the powers, duties, structure and function of the government of the U.S. state of Florida, and establishes the basic law of the state

Florida’s first constitution as a U.S. territory was written and implemented in 1838. On March 3, 1845, Florida was granted admission into the union as the 27th state.

The current Constitution of Florida was ratified on Nov. 5, 1968, and has been modified by initiative and referendum several times since.

There are four ways to amend the Florida Constitution. A proposed amendment requires at least 60% approval from voters to pass.

- A joint resolution of the Florida Legislature (both the Florida House and Senate).

- A citizens’ initiative allows a group of citizens to collect signatures to place an amendment on the ballot. The number of signatures required for an initiated constitutional amendment is equal to 8 percent of the votes cast in the preceding presidential election.

- A proposal from the Constitution Revision Commission (meets only every 20 years. Last time was 2017/18)

- A proposal from the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (enacted only in 2007; also meets only every 20 years)

The ballot for the 2020 General Election will have 6 amendments to the Florida Constitution. Four are citizens’ initiatives (# 1, 2, 3, 4), and two were initiated by the Florida Legislature (# 5 and 6).

AMENDMENT 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

Ballot summary: This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least 18 years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.

AMENDMENT 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

Ballot summary: Raises minimum wage to $10 per hour effective Sept. 30, 2021. Each Sept. 30 thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on Sept. 30, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting Sept. 30, 2027.

AMENDMENT 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

Ballot summary: 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 the general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and the winner is determined in the general election.

AMENDMENT 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

Ballot summary: Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.

AMENDMENT 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments

Ballot summary: Proposing to increase, from two years to three years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.

AMENDMENT 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Disabled Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

Ballot summary: Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran's surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions.

For a November 3rd Presidential Election sample ballot, click here