In the United States, power belongs to the people. Plain and simple.
Our country’s most fundamental underlying value is the right of citizens like you to be able to participate in our democracy. When leaders fail to act on issues of importance, we must speak up and take action.
But now, leaders in both the Florida House and Senate are muscling bills through the legislature that will strip away our right to put a question on the ballot for Florida voters to decide.
Legislators have already made it an incredibly steep uphill climb for grassroots groups to present ballot questions to fellow citizens. Now they are infringing on our First Amendment rights by completely shutting down citizen initiatives.
These terrible bills (SB 7096/HB PCB JDC 19-0) would:
- Make it so that anyone (volunteers, your neighbor, your grandma) who collects petitions to place a question on the ballot will have to register with the Secretary of State and prove their Florida residency, a process that takes time and energy. If you don’t do this, the petitions you collected would be invalidated, no matter if the petition is signed by a Florida voter.
- Criminalize the act of paying people to collect petitions. Citizen initiatives must acquire about a million signatures (and growing) over an extremely short two-year span. It is all but impossible to organize enough volunteers to complete this already-Herculean task. When Florida’s Constitution was first drafted, citizens had as much time as needed to collect petitions.
- Add confusing and threatening language to the ballot as a scare tactic to intimidate voters from supporting a citizen initiative.
Overregulation of the citizen participation process is a tool that those in power use to silence and delegitimize people and communities who challenge that power.
-Your Friends at Florida Conservation Voters