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Moody, Florida Democratic Party fight primary elections proposal

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Democratic Party filed briefsTuesday arguing that the state Supreme Court should block a proposed constitutional amendment that would overhaul Florida's primary-elections process.

The political committee All Voters Vote is seeking to put the proposed amendment on the November 2020 ballot.

Under the proposal, registered voters would be able to cast ballots in primaries, regardless of political affiliation. The two candidates getting the most votes in each primary would advance to the general election.

Florida currently has a "closed" primary system, which limits primaries to voters registered with parties.

All Voters Vote needs the Supreme Court to sign off on the ballot wording, with justices looking at issues such as whether the wording would be misleading to voters.

In the briefs filed Tuesday, Moody and the Democratic Party argued that the proposed ballot wording is flawed.

The Democratic Party contended, in part, that the ballot wording does not adequately explain to voters the major changes the amendment would bring.

"Without clearly and unambiguously informing voters, the proposed amendment changes a century-old primary election system," the brief said. "For the first time since at least 1913, primary voters would not choose a political party's nominee for the general election."

Along with needing Supreme Court approval, All Voters Vote needs to submit at least 766,200 valid petition signatures to the state Division of Elections by a February deadline.

As of Tuesday night, the Division of Elections had tallied 701,496 signatures, indicating the political committee likely will clear the signature threshold before the deadline.