Of the proposed amendments headed to the ballot this year, three (amendments 4, 5 and 6) were placed there by groups that circulated petitions and gathered the required number of signatures. The other amendments were placed there by approval of the state Legislature.
The state Legislature can place proposed amendments on the ballot without prior review by the state Supreme Court or other agencies. However, groups seeking to place an amendment on the ballot through a petition initiative must follow 10 steps. To get the initiative on the ballot, groups must obtain 8 percent of the number of voters who cast ballots in the previous presidential election. Those signatures must come from more than half of the state’s 25 congressional districts. In Florida in 2010, groups needed 676,811 signatures to get on the ballot. Here is the process for getting a citizen initiative on the ballot:
Source: Florida Division of Elections
Florida voters supported voluntary pre-kindergarten, smaller class sizes, limits on workplace smoking and protections for pregnant pigs. They also supported the creation of a high-speed rail system – and then voted for an amendment to repeal it four years later.In 11 of the 15 states with the most citizen-led initiatives on the ballot, voters have rejected at least half of them. Florida voters have said “yes” to everything since 1996, when they shot down a proposal to levy a fee on raw sugar to help restore the Everglades. But Florida’s streak of all citizens’ initiatives earning voters’ approval isn’t likely to last through another decade. A change approved by voters in 2006 makes it more difficult to get amendments passed. That change requires approval by 60 percent of voters, up from 50 percent. Under that new standard, five of the 14 amendments approved between 2000 and 2008 – would have failed.