Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

New-Fangled Vote Counting

Florida, Proposal 97, Constitution, democracy, voting, initiative, Constitution Revision Commission

Call me old-fashioned, but when you go to the pols to cast your vote on a ballot measure, your Yes vote should count for yes and your No vote for no.

And if you choose not to vote, your non-vote should count for neither yes nor no.

That’s just common sense. Right?

Well, meet its antithesis: Proposal 97, now being considered by Florida’s powerful Constitution Revision Commission (CRC).* Proposal 97 would count all those who do not cast a vote for or against a ballot measure as a No vote against it.

To pass a constitutional amendment in the Sunshine State already requires a supermajority vote of at least 60 percent of those who do cast a vote on the measure. Under Proposal 97, counting all those not voting on it as No votes, that percentage would necessarily go even higher. If 10 percent don’t vote, Yes would have to come in at 67 percent to win.

This is minority rule . . . with an extra perverse twist.

The supermajority requirement encourages big money interests to spend heavily against ballot initiatives — even when the issues have clear majority support — because if they can manage to lose by less than 20 points (60–40 percent), they win. Now all opponents need do is poison the water with the nastiest campaigning imaginable, causing more voters to throw up their hands or pinch their noses and avoid the issue . . .

. . . thus, being counted as voting No.

Don’t abstain. Stop Proposal 97. Tell them NO here.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* How powerful is the CRC? Every 20 years it meets with the awesome authority to refer constitutional amendments directly to the ballot — as many as it wishes and the amendments can be packaged to include several different subjects. No other state has a similar body. Of the 37 commission members, the governor appoints 15, the Senate president and the House speaker each appoint nine, the chief justice of the state supreme court appoints three and the attorney general is an automatic member.

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By: CS Admin


  1. If someone does not vote FOR a measure, why should they be assumed to have consented to its passage? (Ditto candidates — all non-votes should be counted as votes for “none of the above” and the office left unfilled if no candidate beats NOTA)

    • Paul Jacob says:

      You know what they say about the word “assume.” Why should a non-vote be assumed (read: forced) to be either a YES vote or a NO vote? It should not be counted either way.

      Tom — You will note the make-up of the CRC. This politician/lobbyist heavy group can put as many amendments on the ballot as they wish and even combine totally separate measures into one measure. Meanwhile, citizens must gather over 600,000 valid signatures from voters and navigate a strict single-subject requirement. Something is not right about this picture.

      • Paul,

        Yes, I am well aware that Florida’s system is FUBAR. However, you ask:

        “Why should a non-vote be assumed (read: forced) to be either a YES vote or a NO vote”

        Because the fiction of government is that its legitimacy rests on the consent of the governed.

        A ballot issue is a question: Shall we do X?

        If someone does not vote, how can that someone be said to have consented to X?

  2. Daniel Rogers says:

    Minnesota has the same provision, although they do not require a supermajority to pass it.

  3. Rocketman says:

    This reminds me of the old L. Neil Smith line “Voting will be outlawed if it ever really threatened to change anything”.

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