TALLAHASSEE — If GOP lawmakers put 11 proposed changes to the state constitution on Tuesday’s ballot to drive voters to the polls, some might say their plan was a success.
But if they wanted voters to support the measures, the plan was a dismal failure.
Florida voters rejected eight of 11 proposed constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature, a marked shift from previous elections in which voters typically say yes. And, while Florida law requires a 60 percent voter approval for the amendments to pass, none of the eight failing proposals even received a simple majority.
“What a slap in the face to the Republican legislature,” said University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith, who tracks constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives.
Senate President Don Gaetz, who co-sponsored Amendment 4, which would have restricted rises in property taxes, said voters he spoke with were loath to change the constitution to accommodate fleeting issues. He said he intends to caution senators to use restraint in future proposals.
“If you have a proposed constitutional amendment, it’d better solve a constitutional problem, not an issue du jour,” said Gaetz, R-Niceville. “And there’d better be a plan to explain this constitutional amendment to the public instead of just putting something on the ballot and then leaving it to the vagaries of the lawyers to put the amendment into confusing and often convoluted language.”
Over the past 40 years, voters have signed off on 80 percent of the constitutional changes placed on the ballot by the legislature. This year, the approval rate was just 27 percent...
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