A measure to establish a top-two open primary system in Florida was certified on Dec. 6 to appear on the 2020 ballot. All Voters Vote, Inc. submitted 769,545 valid signatures for the initiative. To qualify, 766,200 valid signatures were required.
The measure would establish a top-two open primary system for primary elections for state legislators, the governor, and other state offices in Florida.
Currently, in Florida, primaries are closed, meaning a voter must be registered with a political party to vote in that party’s primary election. Under the measure, all candidates would be placed on one ballot regardless of political affiliation and the top two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election. Under the measure, anyone, regardless of political affiliation, could vote in the primary election.
In cases where only two candidates qualify for the primary election, the primary would be canceled and the election winner would be decided in the general election.
If approved by 60% of voters at the 2020 general election, the measure would become effective on January 1, 2024.
All Voters Vote wrote, “The vast majority of races in Florida are decided in the closed party primaries—which excludes most voters. Those closed primaries are decided by the small, extreme wings of each party. Because of this, our elected leaders no longer have to answer to the majority of people, but only to a very small group of hyper-partisan voters. By giving all voters a chance to vote, politicians will become answerable to the majority of voters, not just a select few.”
In a poll by St. Pete Polls conducted in October, 3,283 registered Florida voters were asked if they supported the measure. 47.6% of respondents said they opposed the measure; 38.1% said they supported it, and 14.3% were unsure.
In 2004, Washington became the first state to adopt a top-two primary system for congressional and state-level elections. California followed suit in 2010. In Nebraska, a top-two primary system is utilized for state legislative elections. Twenty-one (21) states conduct open primaries for congressional and state-level offices. In Alaska, the law stipulates that political parties can determine for themselves who may participate in their primary elections.
Two other measures are certified to appear on Florida’s 2020 ballot. Amendment 1 would state in the constitution that only U.S. citizens can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections. Amendment 2 would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026.
From 1996 to 2018, a total of 91 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Florida, of which 75.8% (69 of 91) were approved and 24.2% (22 of 91) were defeated. Between 1996 and 2018, an average of between seven and eight measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Florida.
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