Armed with data showing that the fastest growing segment of Florida’s electorate is choosing no party affiliation, a bipartisan group of activists is pushing for a constitutional amendment to open Florida’s closed primary system to all voters. The All Voters Vote amendment will be delivered Wednesday to the Florida Division of Elections with the hope of getting enough signatures to place it on the 2016 ballot. Miami lawyer Gene Stearns, who is leading the effort, said the goal is to encourage elected officials to listen to a broader swath of voters by giving voice to the growing number of Floridians who are written out of the state’s primary election system because they choose not to register with any political party. “The two parties are becoming increasingly extreme and increasingly shrill because the people who control the outcomes dictate what you have to do to be nominated to a particular party,” said Stearns, who served as chief of staff to former House Speaker Dick Pettigrew and campaign manager to former Gov. Reubin Askew, both Democrats.
“The result of this is more and more people are becoming unwilling to identify with either of them. The consequence of their collective decision is making politics worse and governments more damaged than they have already become.”
Under current law, only when a candidate has no opposition from outside their party can all voters cast a vote in that race in the primary.
The proposed amendment, if passed, would allow all registered voters to vote in primaries for congressional and state partisan offices regardless of the party affiliation of the voters or candidates.