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Breaking down Florida Amendment 3: All voters vote in primary elections

Florida Amendment 3 is all about open primary elections. Here's what you should know.
Florida Amendment 3 is all about open primary elections. Here's what you should know.

Our “Amendments 101” series aims to provide a simple, clear breakdown of each Florida constitutional ballot question — and to ultimately help you make an informed decision.

Florida is one of only 11 states that have totally closed primaries, and Amendment 3 proposes to open them to all voters.

This and all constitutional amendments need a supermajority 60% support to pass.

Amendment 3: Click here for the full text

Amendment 3 would fundamentally change Florida’s primary process by opening primary elections to all registered voters.

Florida is one of 11 states that hold closed primaries for registered Democrats and registered Republicans to choose their respective party candidates for the following general election.

Florida has had an increasing number of independent voters, known as NPA’s (No Party Affiliation), who currently comprise more than a third of Florida’s electorate.

Amendment 3 proposes opening primary voting to all and changing the process to a listing of all candidates on one ballot, including major party candidates, third-party candidates, and NPA candidates. All voters would choose the top two vote-getters, who would then become the general election candidates, no matter party affiliation.

Supporters argue that open primaries allow more people to vote, supporting the very essence of democracy. Candidates who are not affiliated with either major party have a better chance of getting support. Also, candidates would have to work to earn broad, diverse support from all voters, rather that focusing on their appeal to a partisan base. Finally, elections are funded by taxpayers, currently requiring NPA voters to pay for elections in which they are prevented from participating.

Amendment 3 is a rare question that unites both the Democratic and Republican parties in opposition. The parties argue that only their members should have the right to pick candidates, and that opening primaries to others would dilute their candidates' chances. Also, concerns have been raised that open primaries would also dilute the chances of minority candidates.

A “Yes” vote = Opening Florida primary elections to all registered voters and changing the process to top two winners.

A “No” vote = Keeping primaries closed for only registered Democrats and Republicans.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."