Neither good intentions nor true desire for voter input placed the 11 state constitutional amendments on a crowded ballot headlined by a presidential election.
One clue: misleading and confusing language.
The overwhelmingly Republican Florida Legislature drafted them knowing that long lines at the polls are more likely to discourage working-class people from voting, among them women and minorities unable to take large chunks of time off.
In Miami-Dade, the ballot is 12 pages long; in Broward, eight pages front and back, except in Pembroke Pines where it’s nine.
Couple the daunting ballots with curtailed early voting — it was slashed almost in half from 15 to eight days and from two Sundays to one in Democratic-dominated Broward — and only the most committed will be able to endure the lines.
It’s all part of a well-orchestrated plan to manipulate this swing-vote state.
But here’s what people who have studied the amendments — members of organizations such as the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, who do want everyone to vote — recommend: Vote ‘No’ on all amendments.
I agree. Just move right along and vote no, no, no – 11 shades of ‘No.’
Not because it’s the expedient thing to do, but because these are all bad proposals to limit rights (Amendments 1, 6 and 8) or either limit or exempt taxes and revenue (Amendments 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11), the latter resulting in catastrophic loss of funding to local governments.
But just as important is the impact of these amendments on the role of the constitution, a governing blueprint that should not be used to hand out tax breaks.
That’s a legislative function, but these lawmakers would rather burden voters so that they can leave the budgetary battlefield politically unscathed.
Amendment 1 is all about Gov. Rick Scott’s personal rift with the federal government. He has turned down needed funding for Medicaid and a high-speed rail system, and this would prevent the Affordable Care Act from taking effect in Florida.
Not only would approving this keep needed benefits and protections from Floridians, but the U.S. Supreme Court has already certified its constitutionality. A yes vote would only lead to another expensive legal fight for us.
Equally, if not more contentious, are Amendments 6 (another attempt at taking abortion rights away from women and assigning decisions to government) and 8 (funds with taxpayer dollars religious groups, a move misrepresented under the title “Religious Freedom”).
Religious freedom is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution — the highest form of protection in the land. No state can take the right to worship, or not to worship, away from you. As for funding, bona fide religious organizations that provide needed social services already receive taxpayer funds from our governmental agencies.
None of the issues put forth in the amendments merit changing the state Constitution, while the consequences of approval by confused voters are grave.
The easiest way to communicate to Scott and the Legislature how we feel about their partisan tactics is to vote early, vote absentee if you have to, review sample ballots, or show up on Election Day no matter the lines — and vote ‘No’ on every amendment.