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Florida Lawmakers Back Lawsuit Filed Against All Voters Vote Amendment

2020 Ballot Constitutional Amendment 3, All Voters Vote.
Blaise Gainey
2020 Ballot Constitutional Amendment 3, All Voters Vote.

Florida lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are against getting rid of Republican and Democratic primaries. That’s what Amendment Three on November’s ballot in Florida would do. It’s called All Voters Vote. While supporters argue it would allow more participation from all eligible voters, those opposing it believe it could cause minority voters to be drowned out. Now the Florida Supreme Court is being asked to take a second look at the proposal.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to review studies that show more than half of districts with majority Black voters will lose their electoral advantage if Amendment Three passes.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) says the amendment, on its face, doesn’t show that impact.

“This can do irreparable damage to our political process. This is the political equivalent to a battle royal," said Sprowls. "Nobody understands who’s going to be left out, nobody understands the damage that’s going to be done to the process and who’s going to be disenfranchised. Which is why it should not go into our constitution.”

Former state Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw conducted one of the studies. It points out that in the 2018 Gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum wouldn’t have made it to the general election because he placed third in the overall vote count during the primaries. The top two vote-getters were Republicans Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam. However, absent from those primaries, were Independent and third-party voters. Amendment Three would give them a say in such elections.

Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) thinks the amendment goes against Florida’s Constitution.

"Both the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 2010 Fair Districts amendment to Florida’s constitution require that racial minorities be able to elect candidates of their choosing and those who reflect their community," said Cruz. "Black and Hispanic representation in elected office is secured in Democratic primaries."

Cruz says California, which currently has a top-two system, is an example of what could happen in Florida.

“There are only nine African-Americans out of 140 members in the California State Assembly," said Cruz. "There are only three of 54 congressional members that are African American in California.”

Shaw’s study shows no Senate district would experience a majority-Black vote share in the primary or general election. Currently, four Senate districts are in that category.

Meanwhile, All Voters Vote Chairman Glenn Burhans says he thinks the amendment will force politicians to be more responsive to voters.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.