Initiative to open primary elections in Florida rejected
In the end, there just weren't enough votes to get Amendment 3 over the finish line Tuesday night.
The proposed amendment, also known as All Voters Vote, needed 60% or more of the vote to become part of the state constitution.
With 99.8% of 10.2 million ballots tabulated by Wednesday morning, only 57% voters filled in the yes bubble. The Associated Press called the amendment rejected.
“When the counting is done, more Floridians will have voted for Amendment 3 than Donald Trump or Joe Biden," said Glenn Burhans Jr., chairman of All Voters Vote.
"We are encouraged by the clear message sent by nearly 6 million Floridians; they want electoral reform for the 5.7 million non-party affiliated voters – including 1.5 million minority voters – who are shut out of the process. We hope that lawmakers will take heed and enact measures to let all voters vote in taxpayer-funded elections.”
If approved, the amendment would have created an open or "blanket" primary for the Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet, allowing all registered voters to vote in primary elections for those offices regardless of their party affiliation. It also would create a system where all candidates for office run on a single ballot.
Supporters of the measure, which was financed almost entirely by Miami businessman Mike Fernandez, said it would produce a more representative government and put an end to the current climate of partisan politics.
But opponents, who failed in March to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to bar the proposal from the ballot, asked the justices to revisit their decision. In a last-minute challenge, Orlando civil rights activist Gilbert Gilzean of the Central Florida Urban League provided what he called new evidence that would disenfranchise minority voters.
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Gilzean had asked the court to order the Secretary of State and the state's canvassing board to not count any votes for or against Amendment 3 and not certify votes already tallied.
Leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties came out in support of the petition, saying it will disenfranchise minority voters and destroy the two-party system.
But Secretary of State Laurel Lee and the canvassing board in their reply said Gilzean’s petition was "tardy, procedurally deficient, and, if granted, would cause nothing but electoral confusion in perhaps the most important State this election cycle."
In a one-paragraph decision, the seven justices unanimously tossed out Gilzean's request for what's called "mandamus" relief, saying he "failed to demonstrate" he had a "clear legal right" to sue or "indisputable legal duty" to do so, among other things.
It isn't the only legal challenge involving this initiative.
All Voters Vote sued the state over the fiscal estimating conference's analysis that it would have some economic impact if passed. They won the case, the state appealed it, and lost, but by the time the courts ruled it was too late to change it on the ballot.
But the state leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties have been adamantly against the proposed amendment, saying it will disenfranchise minority voters and destroy the two-party system.
Contact Jeff Schweers at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.