2020 Florida Amendments: A simple explanation of what a yes or no vote will mean

Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 10:31:58-05

Florida voters will do more than cast ballots for president of the United States this election day. There are also lots of local races, as well as six consequential amendments.

ABC Action News spoke with our political analyst, Dr. Susan MacManus, to help give our viewers more insight into the amendments on the ballot. A 60 percent majority vote is required for the approval of Florida amendments.

“One thing voters need to be clued into is the fact that the title of the amendment that goes on the ballot is designed to make you really want to vote for it,” said Dr. MacManus.

Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

Summary: “The 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.”

"The people who put it on the ballot were concerned about what they were seeing in some other states, where they were letting people who weren't citizens vote in elections," said Dr. MacManus. “Some people read into it as anti-immigrant. Others read into it as well that is what we should have, only citizens voting.”

A YES vote means: you agree with the change and you think “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.

A NO vote means: you don't agree with it and want to keep the text the same – “every citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.

Amendment 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

Summary: “Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.”

Our political analyst, Dr. Susan MacManus says there are two drastically different opinions about whether the higher uniform wage creates jobs or costs jobs.

"The belief is that it [raising minimum wage] would be better for Florida's economy and for individuals and resolve some of the large wage gap between some of the people in our state," said Dr. MacManus. "The other side says this is not a sustainable wage that would allow small businesses that might hire people in these service jobs. If you force that on a lot of small businesses, they would simply have to reduce the number of employees that they have and people would lose their jobs.”

ABC Action News recently spoke with business owners about Amendment 2.

A YES vote means: you are in favor of requiring the minimum wage that is on the ballot for everyone hired in Florida – increasing the state’s minimum wage yearly until it reaches $15.00 per hour in September of 2026.

A NO vote means: keep it the way it is ($8.56 per hour as of 2020 & adjusted annually due to inflation) and let each individual business decide for themselves which wages they are going to pay their staff and keep the minimum that we have for everyone.

Amendment 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

Summary: “Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. The two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.”

This amendment would drastically change state elections and the strength of your vote, according to ABC Action News Full Circle Reporting. If Amendment 3 passes, it would open up Florida’s primary elections to independent voters. This would apply to races for governor, state lawmakers and cabinet members, including attorney general.

While it’s presented as “all voters vote,” the amendment would eliminate Republican and Democratic party primaries and replace them with a single primary in which all candidates would run, regardless of party. The top two vote getters would advance to the general election, even if they are both Democrats or both Republicans.

“You would not have a Democratic primary or a Republican primary, under this new form it would be a governors primary. And you could have 20 candidates running there,” said Dr. MacManus. She warns that voters need to understand what they’re really voting on before making their decision on Amendment 3.

ABC Action News recently went Full Circle on Amendment Three. Watch Paul LaGrone’s report to educate yourself about the choice to change Florida’s election.

A YES vote means: you support creating the top-two system for Florida’s primaries.

A NO vote means: you oppose creating the top-two system and want to keep Florida’s current system the way it is, as a closed primary.

Amendment 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

Summary: “Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.”

"The argument basically is that if it really is an important enough issue to put in the constitution that it should have higher scrutiny. We already of course have the 60 percent requirement for an amendment to pass," said Dr. MacManus. "People who are against this say that it is an unreasonable burden - that one of the reasons why we have so many amendments proposed is because the legislature itself is not addressing some of the issues that people who sign signatures feel strongly about... that we have something done about them."

A YES vote means: you favor for anything to become an amendment to the Florida constitution, that it would have to pass through 60% of voters in two elections in a row.

A NO vote means: you don’t agree and favor the way it stands – just one election by 60% voter approval.

Amendment 5: Limitations on Homestead Property Tax Assessments; increased portability period to transfer accrued benefit

Summary: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective January 1, 2021, to increase, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.”

Amendment 5 was put on the ballot by the Florida legislature, as opposed to a citizen petition. Lawmakers had to vote before putting it in front of the general population for approval. Dr. MacManus describes Amendment 5 as a non-controversial tax break for homeowners that allows them to transfer their accrued homestead exemption funds under the Save Our Homes law from their old home to a newly-purchased home up to three years after the sale instead of two years.

Lawmakers who support this amendment say the extension would help homeowners who sell their home later in the year. An organization that opposes this amendment, the League of Women Voters, says, “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”

“The only complaint is that anytime you give a tax break, it takes money away from funds that would have been raised by local governments,” said Dr. MacManus.

A YES vote means: you want to extend the period from 2 years to 3 years during which a person can transfer “Save Our Homes” benefits.

A NO vote means: you do not want the period to be extended.

Amendment 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

Summary: “Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran's surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2021.”

Amendment 6 was also put on the ballot by the Florida legislature, as opposed to a citizen petition. Dr. MacManus describes Amendment 6 as a non-controversial tax break for surviving spouses of certain combat-disabled veterans. An organization that opposes this amendment, the League of Women Voters, says, “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”

“This is very popular because we have a lot of veterans in the state. One of the fears is that people without this break might not have been able to keep their home. These are usually aimed at making sure people don’t lose their home,” said Dr. MacManus.

A YES vote means: you support the change that would allow the transfer of a homestead property tax discount to the spouses of certain deceased veterans who had permanent, combat-related disabilities.

A NO vote means: you do not believe the property tax discounts should be transferred to the spouse.