Florida Amendment 1 for the 2020 General Election is a confusing one despite it’s simplicity and apparent straightforwardness.
Florida Amendment 1 – Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections – on 2020 General Election ballots reads:
“This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election. Because the proposed amendment is not expected to result in any changes to the voter registration process in Florida, it will have no impact on state or local government costs or revenue. Further, it will have no effect on the state’s economy.”
A laymen’s breakdown of Florida Amendment 1 on the 2020 General Election Ballot
Amendment 1 seeks to replace one word in the Florida Constitution. The Florida Constitution currently states that “every” citizen of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote can vote in Florida. This amendment proposes changing “every” to “only a.”
The change would have no functional or financial effect on the state.
Amendment 1 sponsors say they want to ensure that elections “are preserved for committed citizens of the United States” and that non-citizens are prevented from voting now and in the future.
This amendment doesn’t change anything. At first glance, one might be concerned that this change is needed because there had been an problem with non-U.S. residents being able to vote in Florida elections, and, therefore, a clarification in the Florida constitution was necessary to stop this from happening in the future.
However, this is not the case. In 2012, then Florida Governor Rick Scott wanted to purge Florida’s voter lists of noncitizens, something he deemed to be an issue plaguing the state. Out of 12 million registered, active voters in Florida, officials who conducted the report claimed to have found 180,000 potential noncitizens. After additional reviews which uncovered significant errors, only 85 names were removed from the rolls as alleged noncitizens (that’s 85 out of 12 million registered, active voters), and only one person was convicted of fraud.
RELATED ARTICLE: Non-citizens can’t vote in Florida. So why is this group trying to ban it…again? | Tampa Bay Times
Who is behind the efforts to pass Florida Amendment 1 in the 2020 General Election?
Florida Citizen Voters (a political action committee) sponsored this initiative. The committee is supported by Citizen Voters, Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit organization founded by John Loudon, a former state lawmaker from Missouri and former policy advisor for America First Policies.
As of September 2020, Citizen Voters, Inc. had contributed $8.3 million to support efforts to promote and encourage the passage of Amendment 1. Citizen Voters hasn’t reported where it got its money, raising even more red flags about the motivations behind such a seemingly useless Amendment to the Florida constitution.
The League of Women Voters of Florida oppose the amendment and encourage voters to vote “NO” on Amendment 1, as it would make no substantive change to the Florida constitution.
RELATED ARTICLE: Vote no on Amendment No. 1, which has no clear purpose but lots of dark money backing | Orlando Sentinel
In summary, here’s a breakdown of what it means if you vote “yes” or “no” on Florida Amendment 1 in the 2020 General Election:
- YES vote = You support amending the Florida Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida
- NO vote = You oppose amending the Florida Constitution, and are in favor of keeping the existing language that says “every citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.