FL voters were choosy with constitutional amendments; higher minimum-wage close to approval

Workers demonstrate in Fort Lauderdale in support of a $15 minimum wage. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images, 2019

Florida’s proposed constitutional amendment No. 2 to raise the minimum wage teetered on the brink of approval late Tuesday, with 10.4 million ballots counted and an indefinite number of mail-in ballots still uncounted. The initiative would incrementally raise the minimum wage in Florida to $15 per hour; it is now $8.56 per hour.

Overall, 60.78 percent of voters said yes to the minimum wage, while 39.22 percent said no. The amendment needed at least 60 percent to pass.

The Florida Division of Elections reported a little more than 11 million Florida voters cast ballots in this general election, by mail, by early voting, or by voting in person on Election Day. It said more than 4.7 million ballots were cast by mail. It was not clear how many of those remained to be counted late Tuesday.

Three of the six constitutional amendments on the ballot won sweeping approval, and uncounted ballots were unlikely to change the outcomes:

/ Amendment No. 1 tweaks existing constitutional language that requires a Florida voter to be a citizen. Citizenship already is required for voting in Florida; the amendment, backed by interests affiliated with the Trump campaign, purports to prevent any possibility that non-citizens could be authorized in the future to vote in local elections. Political scientists speculated the initiative’s main purpose, at a cost of $8 million, was to further motivate conservative voters to get to the polls.

/ Amendments No. 5 and No. 6 tweak property-tax policies to give homeowners additional time to transfer a homestead exemption from a former home to a new one, and to extend homestead exemption benefits to widows of disabled combat veterans.

Amendment No. 3 — “All Voters Vote in Primary Elections” – was falling short of the 60 percent threshold it would need for adoption. The amendment would end partisan political primary elections and implement a “top two” system in which all voters could participate.

Amendment No 4, requiring voters to approve an amendment in not just one election but in two, did not meet the 60 percent threshold. That initiative was backed by business interests seeking to make it more difficult to amend the Florida Constitution.