Proposal would make it harder to change Florida Constitution

(Florida Department of State)

Voters who decide not to mark ballots on proposed constitutional amendments would be counted as “no” votes, under a measure that the state Constitution Revision Commission began taking up Monday.

The proposal, which the commission is expected to consider again Tuesday, would make it harder for constitutional amendments to win voter approval.

Currently, constitutional amendments pass if they receive 60 percent support from voters who mark ballots on those issues.

Constitution Revision Commission member Belinda Keiser described her proposal (Proposal 97) as a “way to encourage more voters to express their opinion.”

But groups that have passed constitutional amendments contend the proposal would “silence” voters.

“It’s plain to see that politicians and lobbyists don’t like it when voters enact term limits, cut taxes or make other policy changes by empowering ordinary citizens,” said Paul Jacob, a board member of US Term Limits and president of a non-profit group called Citizens In Charge.

That new group includes the Florida Conservation Voters, which in 2014 helped pass a land- and water-conservation proposal known as Amendment 1, which was approved with nearly 75 percent of the vote.

Keiser, the vice chancellor of Keiser University and an appointee to the commission by Gov. Rick Scott, noted that of 22 constitutional amendments approved by Florida voters during the past 12 years, 12 would have failed under her proposal.

She also noted that in 2014, Amendment 1 would have been approved with about 70 percent of the vote if her proposal was in place.

The commission meets every 20 years and can place proposed constitutional amendments directly on the November ballot.