Last week, I vented about the ridiculous bundling of amendments on the Florida state ballot. Since then, I’ve received phone calls and emails from readers voicing the same frustration and asking how these amendments made it onto our ballot. Here’s what I discovered.
Sundial, a public radio station in South Florida, recently interviewed Tim Cerlo, a member of the Constitution Revision Commission, which is created every 20 years to propose amendments to the Florida Constitution.
Cerio the bundling of amendments into a single yes or no vote was to prevent “voter fatigue” from facing an exceptionally long ballot. He said the CRC struggled with how to present all of the issues to voters and so they bundled “concepts that are arguably similar” to promote “ballot brevity.”
Are you rolling your eyes yet?
The interviewer asked Cerio how the issues on Amendment 9, offshore oil drilling and banning vaping indoors, were similar. Cerio responded by saying “It’s clean air, clean water” and they were trying to promote a shorter ballot. But his next statement is what really got me.
“We got third-party information that these two items polled through the roof,” Cerio said. “So generally our approach to bundling was that we don't want to be accused of trying to combine something that's clearly unpopular or something that barely passed the CRC with something very popular.”
Yes Mr. Cerio, these issues are “wildly popular” by themselves. But just because I want to prevent offshore drilling a doesn’t mean I want to also ban smoking indoors. They are two completely different subjects.
I’m not convinced. While I somewhat understand why the CRC wanted to keep the ballot short, I also believe they are taking away power from the voters. Each amendment should have its own separate vote. If that means the ballot has 22 proposals instead of 8, so be it. I would rather have a choice on each individual issue, than have to vote no on multiple ones because I don’t like the second proposal.
A lot of people have told me that they don’t want to vote this year because they don’t agree with the bundling. I get that but choosing not to vote will do more harm than good.
I can’t tell you how to vote on these issues, but I can tell you that if these topics are important enough, they’ll be back in another election. Write to your state senators and representatives and voice your concerns. Let lawmakers know that we want clear, individual choices on our ballots.
Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-4353.