How Florida’s state legislature repeatedly defies the will of voters on ballot initiatives: report

Alex Henderson July 01, 2021

Florida has been one of the United States’ most unpredictable swing states, and far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis — along with his GOP allies in the Florida State Legislature — has shown little to no desire to meet Florida Democrats half way. Bloomberg Law, in an article published this week, cites examples of Florida lawmakers ignoring the wishes of voters when it comes to ballot initiatives.

“Florida voters may have thought they had the last word when they approved ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana, restoring voting rights to former felons, and raising the minimum wage,” Bloomberg Law reports. “That’s not how lawmakers see it.”

Aubrey Jewett, who focuses on politics at the University of Central Florida, told Bloomberg Law, “One of the main reasons that people use the initiative process of Florida is to bypass the Legislature. On an issue that the Legislature doesn’t like, they have a long record of trying to undermine whatever was passed.”

In addition, Bloomberg Law notes, Florida lawmakers “keep moving the goalposts, requiring larger percentages of the vote to win, adding restrictions on raising money, and making it harder to get initiatives on the ballot in the first place.”

In 2018, Floridians voted to restore voting rights to convicted felons after they are released. But Florida Republicans have had nothing but contempt for that vote.

“Advocates successfully campaigned in 2018 to automatically restore voting rights to former felons, but they were thwarted by a 2019 legislative requirement withholding those voting rights until ex-felons paid all court-ordered fees, fines, and restitution,” Bloomberg Law explains. “Now, a new group of advocates wants to amend the state’s constitution to spell out that voting eligibility couldn’t be denied because of any debt, including legal financial obligations. If the proposal clears Florida’s hurdles for ballot placement and wins approval from at least 60% of voters, tens of thousands of former felons would be able to register and vote in the next presidential election — unless the elected officials in Tallahassee figured out another workaround.”

How Florida’s state legislature repeatedly defies the will of voters on ballot initiatives: report

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