A Florida TaxWatch survey finds that Florida voters are unaware of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC)and its activities. The non-partisan, non-profit government watchdog and research institute partnered with Tallahassee-based Cherry Communications to conduct a live telephone survey of 527 registered voters, of whom had voted in at least two of the last three general elections, and new registrants from June 7 – 15, 2017 to get a better idea of just how much Florida voters know and understand about the CRC.
Florida’s Constitution establishes the CRC which convenes every 20 years to review the Constitution and put forward amendments to clean up outdated or conflicting provisions, remove language that is no longer binding, or to introduce new issues. Amendments proposed by the CRC will appear on the November 2018 final ballot and require a minimum of 60 percent favorable approval by the voters to become effective.
When asked about how much respondents had seen, read or heard about recent CRC meetings, 77 percent of the respondents said that they had seen, read or heard “nothing at all.” Another 12.9 percent responded that they had seen, read or heard “a little” about CRC activities.
75 percent of those who said they heard a lot, some, or a little about the CRC, when asked whether they had read or seen any editorials regarding the CRC’s public hearings, said that they had not. Only 19 percent responded that they had seen or read any editorials on CRC activities.
These results are alarming. The CRC began a series of public hearings across the state on March 29, 2017. To date, public hearings have been conducted in Orlando, Miami, Boca Raton, Tallahassee, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Panama City, Ft. Myers, and Tampa.
An estimated 2,350 citizens have attended these public hearings. More than 900 members of the public have appeared before the CRC, speaking on issues ranging from the need for an independent redistricting commission to the fundamental basic right of adults to possess, cultivate, and use cannabis. The CRC website lists 35 press releases from CRC staff announcing upcoming public hearings, summarizing public hearings, and apprising the public of CRC rulemaking and other activities.
Despite a lack of knowledge, when asked about the concept of a CRC, more than 50 percent of the respondents support the idea of convening a CRC every 20 years to revise and update the Constitution. Only 11 percent opposed the idea.
This is important because constitutional changes have far more lasting impacts than changes to Florida Statutes, since at least 60 percent of the voters must approve a constitutional amendment. Florida is the only state that gives voters a voice in the periodic review and revision of the Constitution, and voters have multiple points of entry into the constitutional revision process.
Florida voters have the ultimate voice when they go to the polls in November 2018 to vote on the proposed constitutional amendments. We are all stakeholders in this important vicennial process and it is incumbent upon all of us to step up our efforts to educate and engage Florida voters. Florida TaxWatch encourages all voters to get informed and get engaged in this important constitutional process.
View the survey cross-tabs here. The margin of error of the survey is +/- 4.23 percent.