Posted on April 04, 2019 at 9:26 AM
Director, Florida Fair and Open Primaries, Inc.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Petitions Launched to Open Florida’s Primaries
Southport, FL (July 18, 2018) – Florida Fair and Open Primaries (FFAOP), a grassroots non- partisan organization based in Florida, has launched two petitions for ballot initiatives to open the primaries to all voters in the state. Currently under Florida’s closed system, voters must join a political party to vote in the primaries.
That means that over 3.4 million independent Florida voters-27% of all registered voters in the state - are currently barred from voting in primary elections that they pay for with their tax dollars. They will once again be disenfranchised from upcoming primary elections on August 28th. For many Florida voters, the primary election is the only election that matters, with a mere 16% of general election races in the state considered competitive in 2016.
One petition being circulated seeks to implement an open primary; the other seeks to prohibit public resources being used for primary elections if all registered voters are not allowed to cast a vote. Once the petitions pass judicial review and a financial impact statement has been issued, a total of 766,200 verified signatures must be obtained by February 2020 in order to qualify for the 2020 ballot. Amendments require 60% approval by voters.
Open primaries was the second most popular issue brought before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) at nine public hearings held across the state this past year, with dozens of Floridians flocking to speak and thousands more signing an online petition in support. Recent polling has also found support for open primaries, with 70% of voters-Republicans, Democrats and independents-voicing their approval.
The growing calls for reform of Florida’s elections come in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Primaries, which drew claims of a “rigged” process and saw 26 million independent voters across the country, including 3.4 million Floridians, locked out of the first round of elections. Neither the CRC, nor the state legislature have taken action on this issue.
“We believe voters should have been afforded the opportunity to determine the fate of an open primaries amendment. Despite the failure of the CRC to forward an open primaries amendment to this year’s ballot, voters may have an opportunity to decide in the future. We are currently engaged in a citizens’ initiative to place an amendment on the 2020 ballot. At issue is whether Florida citizens believe the fundamental right to vote should be extended to all registered voters in every election. As the vast majority of races are decided in a primary election, by a tiny fraction of the electorate, we believe they will agree.”
–Steve Hough, Director, Florida Fair and Open Primaries, Inc.
“There has been a growing sense among voters in Florida and across the country that no one is really listening. Well we’re standing up and making the political establishment listen. Florida voters are tired of paying millions of dollars for primary elections that exclude over a quarter of our fellow citizens. We’re inviting every Floridian to join us in putting an open primaries referendum on the 2020 ballot. Let the voters decide!”
-Tom Cullen, Director of Outreach, Florida Fair and Open Primaries, Inc.
FFAOP is mobilizing a rapidly growing network of supporters of all political persuasions across the state. Circulation of petitions is already underway, with volunteers in fourteen counties making phone calls, attending events to promote open primaries, and collecting petition signatures. A number of future events are being planned in order to highlight Florida’s closed primary system and to inform the public about a better alternative.
Available for Interview
Steve Hough, Director of Florida Fair and Open Primaries, Inc. (based in Southport, FL.)
Florida Fair and Open Primaries (FFAOP) is a grass roots non-partisan, volunteer organization that supports adding a constitutional amendment to the ballot to change Florida primary elections from a closed system to an open primary system. More information about FFAOP and its work, can be found at http://www.floridafairandopenprimaries.org/