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Amendment 3 fails: Floridians vote against open primaries for state offices

Amendment fails to receive 60% ‘yes’ vote required to adopt amendment

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Florida’s proposed Amendment 3, which aims to establish an open primary system for state offices, has failed.

The proposal needed at least 60% approval to pass but only 43% of Floridians voted in favor of the amendment.

[LIVE RACE RESULTS: Scroll to bottom of story to see all race returns]

Candidate

Votes

%

No
4,410,76843%
Yes
5,854,46857%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(6,097 / 6,097)

RACE DETAILS BELOW

Floridians will have the opportunity this November to vote on an amendment that would change the way future primary elections look if approved.

Amendment 3 aims to establish an open primary system for state offices, including the governor, legislators and cabinet members.

Here’s the summary of what appears on the 2020 ballot:

“Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.”

Read the full text of Amendment 3 here.

Currently, Florida has closed primaries meaning voters must be registered with a major political party-- Republican or Democrat-- to vote in the primary election. This means independent voters cannot participate in partisan races. It also means Democrats and Republicans will only see the candidates registered for their party on their primary ballot.

[2020 VOTER GUIDE: Everything you need to know ahead of the presidential election | 6 Florida constitutional amendments to be on ballot in November]

Of Florida’s more than 14 million registered voters, this eliminates more than 188,500 who are registered with a minor political party as well as 3.6 million who are independent meaning not registered with any political party.

Amendment 3 would result in the two top candidates, no matter their party affiliation, going onto the general election. If only two candidates qualify by the primary it would be canceled and those candidates would go onto the general election, even if it means two candidates of the same party are running against each other.

If Amendment 3 is approved, Florida would join 21 other states that conduct open primaries for congressional and state offices.

All Voters Vote, a political committee is leading the campaign for the amendment. Both Republican and Democratic parties of Florida oppose the amendment, saying it goes too far and would create unintended consequences.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, along with ACLU of Florida, are among the independent organizations that also oppose the ballot measure.

“It is our belief that Top Two Open Primaries would have a strong adverse impact on African-American representation in Florida. Our position is to support an Open Primary system that would allow for the broadest possible voter participation. The League of Women Voters of Florida is very much in support of Open Primaries and would wholeheartedly support this measure if it were not tied to Top Two. We are hopeful and will continue to advocate for a future Open Primary opportunity that will enfranchise Florida’s NPA voters and those who belong to nontraditional parties in our primary process,” the LWVFL said in a statement opposing the amendment.

Here’s how you should vote on the measure, depending on whether you support or oppose it, according to Ballotpedia.

  • A vote “yes” supports establishing a top-two open primary system for primary elections for state legislators, the governor, and cabinet (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture) in Florida.
  • A vote “no” opposes establishing a top-two open primary system for primary elections, thereby leaving in place Florida’s current system where closed primaries are held by each party.

A 60 percent supermajority vote is required for the approval of Amendment 3. If approved it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Amendment 3 is one of six amendments Florida voters can expect to see on their ballot in the general election, and the language included with the other ballot measures may be just as difficult for voters to interpret on Election Day, which is why they’re encouraged to brush up on the ballot measures before heading to the polls.

Click here for a closer look at all six amendments.