Florida voters asked to scrap one way to amend constitution
VOTE-POWER: At a recent city council meeting in Tallahassee, advocates of a referendum to scrap term limits called it a “constitutional referendum.” Pictured here is a petition by Florida Coalition to Repeal Term Limits.
WASHINGTON – Florida voters are considering rewriting the state constitution if they can’t reach agreement on the most basic questions of their time: Who is allowed to sign a check?
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So far, only about 8,800 people have signed up to vote on either question in a statewide constitutional referendum, which is a turnout as low as any other state in the country.
That’s just the beginning, said Florida Coalition to Repeal Term Limits, a group that collected more than 17,000 signatures in support of a proposed referendum to remove term limits and overturn a decision by the Florida Supreme Court that constitutional amendments can only be proposed by voters.
The group’s efforts are a microcosm of the campaign in Florida. The state has more than 800,000 registered voters who could potentially turn out in a statewide referendum.
The group hopes to make a persuasive argument that voters, and the Legislature, have been wronged by a court that found that the Florida Constitution’s term-limits law was unconstitutional.
“I think it’s going to be hard to find a group that’s more committed to the idea of stopping term limits than we are,” said Jennifer Riggall, the coalition’s lead organizer.
But whether the referendum gets on the ballot next year is still up in the air because of a legal challenge by the state Republican Party, which says no referendum can take effect until a judge has signed off on the matter.
While Riggall’s group, which is made up of people and groups ranging from the NAACP to the NAACP Legal and Educational Fund to the American Civil Liberties Union to the Florida Democratic Party, argues term limits should be repealed, the Republican Party is defending the constitutionality of the term limits law.
And supporters of the term limits law say Riggall and her allies have gotten the facts wrong throughout the ballot initiative process.
“What’s being presented as fact today isn’t fact,” said Ken Jacobson, a