DeSantis suggests separate election day for ballot questions
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he wants to look into the idea of holding a separate election for proposed constitutional amendments as a way to declutter the ballot and allow voters to focus on ballot proposals.
“If we’re going to do these amendments, maybe have those be stand-alone elections,” DeSantis said during a Jacksonville event. “Maybe it would cost a little more money for the state, but at least people would know when they’re going, that’s the reason I’m going.”
DeSantis was responding to a reporter’s question about a bill the governor signed last week that places hurdles on petition drives seeking to change the constitution.
He defended the new law, which requires paid petition gatherers to register with the secretary of state, outlaws paying gatherers based on the number of signatures they collect and imposes fines if petitions aren’t turned in within 30 days.
DeSantis also said he wants to do more to change the process of amending the constitution.
One reason to hold a separate election for constitutional amendments would be to shorten general election ballots, he said.
“You know we’re going to vote for the presidential, you’re going to vote for Congress, state Senate, state House, all these other offices. Then you’ve got judges. And how many amendments did we have last time?” DeSantis said.
Florida had 12 amendments on the ballot last year, 11 of which passed. They included seven questions placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to suggest changes to the constitution.
A bill died during this year’s legislative session that would have asked voters to abolish the commission, an idea DeSantis wants to continue pursuing. Part of his criticism is that the commission bundled different topics. Five of the commission’s proposals contained more than one subject, such as one that banned oil drilling in state waters and added vaping to the state’s indoor smoking ban.
“To put all those amendments on when you have two or three different subjects in one amendment, I thought it was a joke. And voters are fatigued with this. The ballots are too long,” DeSantis said. “I’ve had voters who are way smarter than me say they didn’t understand some of these amendments.”