Constitutional Amendments, Florida Politics and America Amplified
A rundown of the constitutional amendments that passed and failed in the November general election. A look at the future of the GOP and the Democratic Party in the Sunshine State. And hearing from community activists about staying engaged after this election season.
On this Thursday, Nov. 5, episode of Sundial:
Of the six constitutional amendments Floridians saw on the ballot this year, four of them passed. There will be changes to the state’s minimum wage, a cosmetic change to who can vote in elections and will offer specific exemptions for spouses of veterans on home purchases.
The amendment to raise the state’s minimum wage was an expansive campaign that could face challenges in the Legislature, according to Tampa Bay Times/ Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Lawerence Mower.
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“There’s certainly a lot of fear and speculation that lawmakers could try and undermine this,” said Mower. “Republican lawmakers have a history of changing constitutional Amendments to fit their desired needs. As Democrats have virtually no power in Tallahassee, they’ve used the constitutional amendment process to get things done. You look at Amendment 4 (the felons voting rights amendment from 2018), medical marijuana, they have been undermined by the Legislature. ”
We spoke with Mower about the statewide implications of all the constitutional amendments, below is the full list.
Florida Amendment 1- Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections [PASSED]
The Florida Constitution, Article VI, Section 2, stated “every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” It will now say “only a citizen” instead of “every citizen”.
Florida Amendment 2- Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage [PASSED]
The Florida Constitution, Article X, Section 24, was amended to increase the existing state minimum wage from $8.56 an hour to $10 an hour starting Sept. 30, 2021. Then it will increase by $1 each year until reaching $15 an hour in September 2026.
Florida Amendment 3- All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet [FAILED]
Would have amended Article VI, Section 5 to add Section C that would alter the state’s primary-election system from a closed election restricted to party affiliated voters to one open to all people regardless of party affiliation and the top two candidates would go on to the general election.
Florida Amendment 4- Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments [FAILED]
Would have amended Article XI, requiring constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at two successive general elections to become effective. Currently constitutional amendments have to receive more than 60% of the votes in order to go into effect.
Florida Amendment 5- Limitation on Homestead Assessments [PASSED]
The Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 4; Article XII, was amended to allow a person to transfer “Save Our Home” benefits within three years instead of two.
Florida Amendment 6- : Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities [PASSED]
The Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 6; Article XII, was amended to allow a veteran’s surviving spouse to receive an existing homestead property tax discount. If they sell the property and move into a new home, a discount not exceeding the previous discount carries over.
Vote counting continues in battleground states across the U.S. as record mail-in voting as drawn out this contentious election season. But Florida, aside from a few recounts in tight statewide and local races, has wrapped up its count on time.
For a state with a long history of recounts and election problems beginning in 2000, the success of the election’s process was not surprising for University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus.
“We are no longer 'Flori-duh,' don’t even call us that anymore. There are a lot of national commentators talking about how well Florida went, thank goodness we’ve got that off our shoulders,” said MacManus on Sundial.
Republicans had a strong showing statewide with President Trump winning by more than four percentage points, a significant lead from his victory over Hillary Clinton back in 2016.
There were a number of surprises in Miami-Dade County, a normally Democratic stronghold, where two congressional seats were flipped Republican by challengers Maria Elvira Salazar and outgoing Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
“There had been signs already that there were problems with the Biden campaign’s approach to the Latino vote,” said MacManus. “You have to also keep in mind that when you pick an issue that is so mobilizing for a fairly broad base of people, you can put together a tight coalition that can affect the outcome. Clearly the Republicans put together the anti-socialism coalition that extended beyond Cuban Americans and included Venezuelans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and that coalition had very turnout.”
MacManus said the Florida Democratic Party will need to rethink its strategy for the midterm elections and rely less heavily on national polling data.
Much of this election season we’ve experienced the heightened political polarization of this country. The public radio program America Amplified has been exploring those dynamics to try and find real connections between individuals across party lines.
Over the past five weeks, the show has featured conversations led by different public radio hosts across the country. The program featured community activists, political scientists and a wide range of voters across the political spectrum.
WLRN Sundial host Luis Hernandez and WABE’s Rose Scott hosted the fourth week of the program, focused on the anxieties individuals were feeling before Election Day and how to remain civically engaged after the election.
Head here to hear all the episodes of America Amplified Election 2020, including a new episode being released this Saturday.