Bundled amendments bring confusion to the November ballot

Have you been keeping an eye on those 12 constitutional amendments up for a vote next month? Well you may want to take a second look before you cast your ballot.

Political experts are warning voters about the bundled amendments included in that list of 12.

"Every 20 years we have a Constitutional Revision Committee that meets and they are allowed to bundle amendments,” said University of Central Florida Political Science Professor Dr. Aubrey Jewett.

We’re in one of those years, and that means at least five of the 12 amendments still up for a vote actually have multiple questions inside. However, you still only get a single vote on each amendment.

For example: Amendment 9 is being heavily publicized for being the measure to ban off-shore drilling in Florida waters, if approved. However, a yes vote for 9 would also ban e-cigarette use in indoor workplaces throughout the state.

Seem like an odd combo?

How about Amendment 6 which would expand the rights of victims of crimes, but it would also dictate how judges interpret certain laws and change the mandatory retirement age of judges from 70 to 75.

Amendment 11 would repeal the state’s ability to ban non-citizens from owning property, but it would also delete unused language in the state constitution regarding high speed rail lines and potentially open the door for criminals serving out-of-date mandatory sentences to have their sentence reduced to line up with current standards.

The list goes on.

"In reality, [often] they don't really have much to do with each other,” said Jewett of the bundlings.
That’s already created some controversy as the State Supreme Court removed Amendment 8 from the ballot saying that the bundle was misleading to voters.

A group of former Florida lawmakers, all Republican, has also launched a campaign asking voters to vote down all of the amendments brought forth by the Constitutional Revision Committee in order to take a stand against the once every 20 years practice.

Dr. Jewett said the original intention of allowing the committee to bundle the measures was to make the process easier for voters by allowing singular votes on related issues, but he said related was the key word there.

"Either intentionally or not they seem to be packaging things that don't have very much to do with each other, and some of the things are more popular and they've packaged them with things that are going to be less popular,” he said.

Some feel that may be illustrated in Amendment 10 which would require the state to have a Department of Veterans Affairs and an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism…which it already does.

However, the amendment would also shift local county governments’ control over the election or appointment of certain positions; some say, an attempt to limit local control.

Dr. Jewett simply urges voters to do their homework on the amendments and know all of the potential effects of their vote. He said that could mean some tough decisions.

A full rundown of the amendments on the Florida State Ballot can be accessed through the League of Women Voters website at: https://www.lwvfl.org/amendments/