HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
October 31, 2012
Contact Information

Lanise Harris
Florida A&M University

(BPRW) Floridians Should Prepare for Lengthy Amendments

(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" The confusing jargon of the 640-word tome that legislators call Amendment 4 will have Floridian voters bewildered. A ballot that includes presidential candidates, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state legislature and local offices, and not to mention the 11 amendments to the state constitution, is exhaustive and a mouthful.

"This is going to be the longest ballot you've ever voted on in your life," said Ion Sancho, Leon County Supervisor of Elections. All of Florida's 11 constitutional amendments tacked onto the end of the ballots are there in their entirety. The amendments used to be listed with only a 75-word summary. But Sancho said the Florida Supreme Court found that the ballot language submitted by lawmakers was not fair and easy to understand as required by law.

Florida's election, which officially began Saturday the 27th with early voting, has young voters excited to have their voices heard, but leaving the polls befuddled. "When I cast my vote for the presidential candidate, I was excited," said Shelby Dell, a Florida A&M University public relations student from Tampa, Fla. "I went in knowing the choice I was going to make. But with all the reading of the amendments, I was ready to get out of there."

The League of Women Voters of Florida, a nonpartisan political organization, has criticized what it calls "misleading titles" of Amendment 5. The 585-word proposal addresses state courts. "Floridians are going to have to really read the fine print "" or have by their side a really talented attorney," said Deirdre Macnab, president of the Florida League of Women Voters.

Not everyone will be scratching their heads on the big day. "For the average person, the amendments are hard to understand," said Tyler Payne, a first year law student at Stetson University. "I suggest voters research the amendments using bipartisan sources recommended by their supervisor of elections. Collins Center for Public Policy has a great resource on their website that breaks down what your yes or no vote would do. Also, printing and filling out a sample ballot to bring with you to the polls so you can remember what you decided on from your research would really clear up some confusion."

When it comes to the wordy additions to the general election's ballot, people who have not prepared for them could simply not read them.

"One option is people simply won't vote," said Darryl Paulson, a retired political scientist. "If they don't understand something, they won't vote. You will see a substantially lower turnout on the amendments than you will on the candidate races."