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The State We're In connects with people in Central Florida and the greater Tampa Bay region about issues that matter to you. From the coronavirus to special coverage of politics along the I-4 corridor, it’s a chance to hear your neighbors, and better understand their experience.The State We’re In is a collaboration of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and 90.7 WMFE in Orlando and is part of America Amplified, a national community engagement and reporting initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.[Join Us On Facebook]

What Is Amendment 1, The Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections Amendment?

Vote written on chalkboard with a check sign
Illustration by Ryan Ellison/WMFE

Here's what you need to know about Amendment 1.

Ballot summary: This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.

Do you have to be a citizen to vote in Florida already?

Amendment 1’s premise is simple: It would add a line in Florida’s constitution that you must be a citizen to vote. Federal law already prohibits non-citizens from voting.

Currently, Florida’s constitution says every citizen shall have the right to vote. Amendment 1 would change the every to only.

John Loudon is chairman of Florida Citizen Voters Inc., the amendment’s sponsor. He points to San Francisco and Maryland, places where non-citizens are allowed to vote in local elections as the reason why the amendment is needed.

“I learned about this new trend of giving legal voting rights to non-citizens, starting and local elections, but potentially expanding to state and federal elections,” Loudon said. “And I just have a serious problem with that.”

Who is against Amendment 1?

The League of Women Voters has come out against Amendment 1, calling it unnecessary.

“We’re opposed to that, there’s no need for that amendment, ” said Florida League of Women Voters President Patti Brigham. “You already have to be a citizen to vote in Florida or in the United States, so that’s a ridiculous initiative and we’re suspicious as to why it’s even there.”

What do other states require?

Arizona and North Dakota recently passed a citizenship requirement to vote. Florida, Colorado and Alabama will vote on it this year.

Where can I get more information?

You can read the full-text of Florida’s Amendment 1 here.

The Florida Division of Elections keeps records on the sponsors of Amendment 1 and its financial backers.

The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research has an evaluation of the financial impact of Amendment 1 here.

The Florida Supreme Court approved putting Amendment 1 onto the 2020 ballot in this opinion.

Learn about other Florida constitutional amendments on the Nov. 3 ballot:
Amendment 1: The Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections Amendment

Amendment 2: Raising the Minimum Wage

Amendment 3: The All Voters Vote in Primary Elections

Amendment 4: The Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

This story is part of The State We’re In, an elections reporting initiative from WUSF and WMFE in Orlando. It’s produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On Facebook, follow The State We’re In page and join the conversation in the group.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.
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