The Phoenix Flyer

Measure to let independent voters participate in Florida primaries moves closer to the 2020 ballot

By: - November 4, 2019 5:10 pm
Voting booths in Leon County

Voting booths in Leon County, in Florida’s state capital. Credit: Mitch Perry.

A group that wants to let voters decide whether to allow “jungle primaries” in Florida is closing in on its goal of collecting enough voter signatures to place the constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot.

All Voters Vote Inc. has recorded 753,438 validated signatures with the state Division of Elections as of Monday, just short of the 766,200 signatures needed to qualify for the 2020 general election ballot.

The proposed state constitutional amendment would allow all registered voters to vote in primary elections. It would replace the current “closed” system that restricts primaries to Republican or Democratic or other party voters when more than one candidate from the party qualifies for the election.

If approved by at least 60 percent of the voters, the proposed amendment would let all qualified candidates for the offices of state legislator, governor or state Cabinet member run in one primary, with the two top vote-getters advancing to the general election.

Advocates for the so-called “jungle” or “top two” primary system say it would allow the growing number of independent or “no party affiliation” voters to vote in the primaries. Currently, the no-party and minor party voters cannot vote in the primaries for either Democratic or Republican candidates.

But even if the All Voters Vote group secures enough voter signatures to qualify for next year’s ballot, it still faces another significant hurdle in that the Florida Supreme Court must review and approve the ballot language.

And the proposal is facing opposition from the Florida Republican Party, the Florida Democratic Party and Attorney General Ashley Moody who have all filed legal briefs opposing the measure. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear those arguments on Dec. 3.

The Florida Phoenix previously reported on this proposed amendment in this story.

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Lloyd Dunkelberger
Lloyd Dunkelberger

Lloyd Dunkelberger has been covering Florida government for over three decades. He’s reported and edited in Tallahassee for the New York Times Regional Newspapers group, Florida Politics, and the News Service of Florida. He grew up in Jacksonville and Palm Beach County and got his journalism degree at the University of Florida.