Lawsuit seeks to knock six amendments off November ballot

Two people, including former Florida Supreme Court justice Harry Lee Anstead, filed suit Tuesday at the Florida Supreme Court to knock six amendments submitted by the Constitution Revision Commission off the Nov. 6 ballot.

The case takes aim at amendments 6-11, which include one to extend school board term limits and another that would ban offshore oil drilling along Florida’s coasts.

A response from the state Secretary of State is expected by 5 p.m. Monday.

The lawsuit argues that because of how the Constitutional Revision Commission “bundled” some of the ballot questions – meaning one amendment includes two different measures – voters cannot vote “yes” or “no” on one single issue without voting for a topic they don’t support or voting against a topic they do support.  An example: to approve the ban on offshore oil drilling (Amendment 9), a voter must also approve a ban on vaping (smoking e-cigarettes) in workplaces and restaurants.

This violates voters’ First Amendments rights, Anstead’s lawsuit claims, by “logrolling” issues, and is “a form of issue gerrymandering” that fails to “inform the voters of critical consequences of (amendment) approval.”

The Constitution Revision Commission meets once every 20 years to identify and propose changes to Florida’s Constitution. Each of the proposed amendments needs 60 percent of voters to approve it to go into effect.

The lawsuit says voters need to be given a clear choice in November “without paying the price of supporting a measure the voter opposes or opposing a measure the voter supports.”

CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.

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