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Open Primaries

Nonpartisan Primaries Have Enough Signatures to Appear on 2020 Florida Ballot

A Florida initiative to implement a nonpartisan, top-two open primary for governor, state cabinet, and legislative elections has cleared the 766,200 signature requirement to appear on the 2020 ballot, according to the Florida Division of Elections. If approved by voters, all voters and candidates would participate on a single primary ballot in these elections, regardless of party affiliation, including the state's 3.7 million registered independent voters.

As of Thanksgiving week, the Florida Division of Elections website reported that 768,391 valid signatures have been submitted to put the nonpartisan primary initiative sponsored by All Voters Vote on the 2020 ballot. The nonpartisan primary initiative also needed to clear signature thresholds in a majority of the state's 27 congressional districts. It cleared these thresholds in 15 districts.

The ballot initiative explicitly states that “all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation,” opening the state's closed primary process to include 27% of the state's electorate registered independent of the major parties. The nonpartisan primary is similar to the systems in place in California and Washington state.

All Voters Vote must clear one final step before the group's initiative appears on the ballot, and that is a judicial review by the state Supreme Court. The court has already heard arguments from advocates and opponents, which includes both major parties and the state's Republican attorney general, arguing to the court that the initiative would mislead voters -- an argument justices reportedly didn't appear sold on.

If the initiative passes the judicial review, it will need 60% of the voting electorate to pass -- a tall hurdle for any amendment to clear. It would then go in effect in time for the 2024 primary.

All Voters Vote is also sponsoring a similar initiative for US House and Senate primaries. The group has not begun pushing the signature drive to get this initiative on the 2020 ballot yet.

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