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What you need to know about the 2020 elections across the greater Tampa Bay region.

Democrats, Republicans Both Oppose 'Top-Two Open Primary' Amendment

Screen shot of a virtual meeting. Sen. Joe Gruters is in the forefront, while the others are in smaller stacked screens on the left.
Tiger Bay Club
Tiger Bay Clubs across Florida hosted a virtual forum Friday on Amendment 3, with Sen. Joe Gruters and other speakers debating the proposal, which would create 'open primaries.'

In a unique bipartisan effort, the heads of Florida's Democratic and Republican parties both oppose Amendment 3. They had a spirited debate Friday with those in favor of the proposal.

Tiger Bay Clubs across Florida hosted a virtual forum Friday on Amendment 3, which seeks to make Florida's primary system a "Top-Two Open Primary."

It would essentially allow Florida's 3.6 million voters registered with no party affiliation to vote during primary elections, which are currently closed.

All candidates would appear on the same primary ballot for state legislature, governor, and cabinet elections. The two candidates with the highest number of votes would then advance to the general election, even if they're from the same party.

Click here to read more about Amendment 3

Florida's Democratic and Republican parties, as well as a number of diverse organizations, oppose Amendment 3.

Sarasota Senator and Chair of the Republican Party of Florida Joe Gruters said that's a sign it's a "bad amendment."

"I mean, how rare do you have the Republican Party of Florida, Democratic Party of Florida, the ACLU, and the League of Women Voters and then the Black Caucus?" said Gruters.

Click here to watch the full forum

Former Congressman Jason Altmire, who's in favor Amendment 3, said he's not surprised both Republicans and Democrats oppose it because it's not something that would benefit their parties.

"If you want to empower the center and have a more collegial working environment and have politicians that can work together and compromise and get along, then I think you should support this amendment," said Altmire.

Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo, who agrees with Gruters, said this amendment would undermine the two-party system and hurt minority representation.

"The initiative would penalize parties with multiple candidates. It's a thinly veiled attempt by wealthy special interests to force both the Democratic and Republican parties to have fewer candidates running for office," said Rizzo.

But Glen Burhans, Jr., of All Voters Vote disagrees with that.

"It's not about the parties, it's about the people. It's about giving voice to three and a half million voters who are blocked out of the process from the elections that they're paying tax dollars for," said Burhans, Jr.

Amendment 3 would need 60% of the vote to pass during November's general election.

Both sides pointed out that if the amendment passes, the initial transition could cost the state up to $5.8 million over the first few cycles.

My main role for WUSF is to report on climate change and the environment, while taking part in NPR’s High-Impact Climate Change Team. I’m also a participant of the Florida Climate Change Reporting Network.