This year’s ballot is a mammoth mess for voters thanks to the GOP dominated legislature piling all kinds of nonsense into it. With 11 amendments, impenetrable due to longwinded, complex legalese descriptions intended to befuddle even then most astute, the Marion County ballot runs 4 legal sized pages and will require 65 cents postage to mail back. There is a devious reason for this explained in a previous post. At any rate, make sure to show your appreciation to your GOP legislator(s) for their reckless manipulation of voters.
[Pictured are just pages 2 and 3 of the Marion County ballot.]
Counsel from reliable sources is to simply vote “No” on all 11 amendments. It’s good advice. (Marion County voters should stop for the last ballot question and vote “Yes” for community hospital (Munroe) district bonds, a local matter. Also vote “Yes” to retain the three Florida Supreme Court justices; the campaign against retention is a Tea Party/GOP effort to own the Supreme Court lock, stock, and barrel – see Amendment 5 below.)
Here is a quick rundown on why you should vote “No” on each of the 11 amendments.
1. Health care mandate: This is a settled issue, per the US Supreme Court, and was only put on the ballot to make a political point. It was irrelevant to start off, and has now become completely moot. Vote NO.
2. Extra homestead exemption for combat wounded veterans: Nice idea, but amending the Florida Constitution is silly. The GOP has the majority; just pass the legislation if you’re serious, GOP legislators. Vote NO.
3. Revised caps on government revenue: This is a failed idea (see Colorado) that is part of the right wing inspired Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). Colorado suspended it. Florida already has caps based on somewhat sensible criteria. See the post from 2011 on TABOR here. This is proven dumb. Vote NO.
4. Reduces property tax responsibility primarily for commercial, non-homestead property including second homes. This is an unaffordable giveaway, and adds yet another square to the checkerboard of property tax gimmicks for those of doubtful need. Vote NO.
5. Legislature manages the judiciary: This probably wouldn’t pass constitutional muster anyway. Remember separation of powers, kids? The legislature simply wants to run the judiciary so you could forget separation of powers. Yeah, right. Vote NO.
6. Personal medical decisions by politicians: It would hardly be an election without an abortion item on the ballot. This is useless since federal law already covers this issue. It’s primarily intended to get out the Christian/anti-choice vote. Vote NO.
7. Removed from ballot.
8. Government money for religious institutions: This is a mess. It isn’t needed since faith-based operations can already receive government funding through a separate 501(c)3 non-profit. Authorize diverting funding to private, religious schools? Probably unconstitutional, too, but the GOP clearly hasn’t read that document, eh? Vote NO.
9. Property tax exemption for surviving spouse of veteran or first responder: See the comment on Amendment 2 above. There is simply no reason to amend the bloody constitution for this. Give it a rest, GOP! Vote NO.
10. Extra homestead exemption for seniors: This already exists. It simply needs the county to approve it. Most counties have already done something with it. Marion … nothing. Without some income qualification, a lot of rich seniors will get a much lighter tax ride while you pick up the tab. Vote NO.
11. Bigger homestead exemption for low income seniors: Tired of property/homestead pandering yet? Yeah, me, too. Again, this does not require a constitutional amendment. Vote NO.
12. Different student rep on college Board of Governors: This would replace the existing Florida Student Association rep with a whole new council being formed just to pick a different rep. Really? Is this necessary? No. So what should you do? Vote NO.
There are lots of articles on the amendments, few complimentary. Here is a link to a TBO article providing a quick review of the amendments with links to further articles if you want to dig deeper.
Also, highly recommended is the Florida League of Women Voters Voter Guide to the Amendments which is also blessedly brief – download it here.
Also, download the Progress Florida 2012 Voter Guide.
While you’re at the Progress Florida site, be sure to sign up for Daily Clips so that you’re well informed about all developments in Florida politics.
If you haven’t requested a mail-in ballot, do it now. You do not want to be at the polling place on Election Day where people will actually be trying to read and understand this godawful ballot. In Marion County, call the Supervisor of Elections Office at 620-3290 to make your request.