Black legislators warn on Florida primary amendment

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson. | Steve Cannon / AP Photo

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Republican and Democratic leaders made their rhetoric against a proposed constitutional amendment that would open state primary elections to all voters regardless of political parties.

Taking the lead on Tuesday were Black legislators, who said the adoption of Amendment 3 would reduce the political clout of black and Hispanic voters, which would give white candidates now better chances of winning legislative seats by people of color.

Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson said, “Not only is this a bumpy road to wrong moderation, it has a very, very consequential impact on minority communities.” “If you are for Amendment 3, you are not for the minority community. Period.”

The civic initiative is being pursued by billionaire health care executive Mike Fernandez, who left the Republican Party after President Donald Trump’s election.

If passed by 60 percent of voters, Amendment 3 would allow all voters, who have no party affiliation, to cast ballots for state legislative seats in Florida’s August primaries and statewide positions like governor. The top two candidates will advance to the November general election, regardless of the party’s affiliation. The system will be similar to California. It will not apply to federal races.

The Republican Party of Florida, which has governed the Legislature and the governor’s mansion for 22 years, voted last week to oppose Amendment 3 and asked GOP leaders to speak out against the measure. Party chairman Joe Grouters, who called the proposed amendment misleading, said Republicans “are moving forward with a plan to try to take it.”

The League of Women Voters canceled its support of the measure last week, saying it would suppress minority voters and candidates from minority communities.

Neither supporters of Amendment 3 nor their political opponents have put together an organized, paid campaign to pass or defeat the initiative, which will be held at the end of a long November vote.

But a persistent message on social media and in the press may be enough to take down Campaign Amendment 3, which requires a supremacy to pass. Criticism by Black MPs that the initiative is harmful to minorities may be particularly damaging to the initiative.

His main argument is that opening priorities for Republicans and independent voters would reduce the strength of minority voting and win the victory of Black and Hispanic people. About a third of the 120-member Florida House is black or Hispanic. Of Florida’s 40 senators, 12 are Black or Hispanic. Ron DeSantis and three cabinet members are white.

Proponents of the measure have stated that the arguments offered by opponents are flawed because they do not consider how people register as independents or have a primary vote with minor parties.

All Voters Vote President Glenn Burhans said in a written statement, “Today nearly one million Black and Hispanic voters are denied the ability to vote in meaningful elections because they refuse to be forced to join a political party We do.” “This denial of the right to vote is wrong. The All Voters Vote Amendment will ensure that no registered voter can be denied the right to vote in these taxpayer-mocking elections. ”

And the open primary system in California has not reduced minority participation in that state, supporters of Amendment 3 say. Commander Kamala Harris, the first black woman to be nominated by a major party to the Vice President, won her election to the US Senate through such a system.

Former legislator Sean Shaw, who opposed the amendment, said it was wrong to compare California to Florida because Florida’s registered voters are almost equally divided between the two main political parties.

Fernandez said he feared the rise of political extremism in the United States, spending more than $ 6 million of his own money to get amendments on the ballot. But they have not made any significant investment to pass this measure. Campaign records show that he has spent a little over $ 79,000 this year.