A voter’s guide: Florida’s proposed amendments

There is no doubt that this year’s midterm elections are important for the future of the nation. On Tuesday, Oct. 6, millions of Floridians will vote on amendments that will affect all things close to home. The 12 amendments on the Florida ballot encompass many critical issues — from off-shore drilling to restoring voting rights of former felons who have served their sentence. Due to the technical language of the amendments, average Americans find themselves going into the voting booth unsure of just exactly what they are voting on.

Last Wednesday, Oct. 31, the Honors College hosted a lecture featuring an explanation of the amendments that will be on the midterm election ballot. Professor and attorney Armando Pedrero explained, in everyday terms, the technical language of the amendments. In case you missed it, here are four takeaways from the lecture:

1. Some amendments are bundled together. For example, amendment nine bundles banning offshore drilling and the prohibited use of e-cigarettes in non-designated locations together. These two measures seem to be unrelated but this uniquely Floridian ballot quirk was done purposefully. The Constitutional revision commission responsible for adding amendments to the ballot every 20 years decided to put more than one measure on an amendment in order to have important, but less popular measures passed. The chances of this happening increase when they are paired with measures that are more likely to pass.

2. It is important to know the sponsors and opposers of an amendment. Amendments, like most legislation, have opposers and supporters. It is important for voters to make note of what institutions or parties are for or against a certain amendment. This is because if the amendment is passed, voters know that those are going to be the affected parties. The civically-engaged must be wary of this in order to make informed decisions come election day.

3. An amendment was removed off the ballot. Amendment eight was removed from the ballot due to the title. The amendment that “permits the state to operate, control and supervise public schools not established by the school board” was challenged by the League of Women voters because it did not specify “charter schools” in its title. The amendment was proposing that schools, including private and charter schools, be under the control of the state; folks opposed to the amendment felt the title was misleading.

4. It is importance for the youth to vote. This coming election will set in place changes that will affect generations to come. It is imperative that voters inform themselves on all the amendments on the ballot because whatever is decided will greatly affect the youth generation. As long as citizens take the initiative to inform themselves of all the issues and take action by voting, they will be part of the change.