If there is an issue that you think should become a law, you don’t have to wait until your state legislature agrees with you. You can let the voters decide by filing a ballot initiative. Your direct action can qualify your measure to be on the ballot in the next statewide election.
Last updated on: September 15, 2020
The following is an overview of how to file a ballot initiative in Florida. Please visit the Florida Department of State’s website for more details.
Draft Your Ballot Initiative in Florida
The people in Florida have a right to propose amendments to the Florida Constitution. To do this, people must file a ballot initiative in Florida. The 2018 Initiative Petition Handbook has all the details regarding this process.
To draft a petition, you must become a registered Political Committee (see the Political Committee Handbook on the Department of State website).
Fees and Filing in Florida
There is no cost to register as a political committee or to file an initiative petition in the State of Florida. However, you, as the sponsoring political committee, must pay $0.10 per signature or the actual cost, whichever is less, to verify the signatures with the Supervisor of Elections’ office.
The Ballot Initiative Petition Format
Your petition must be in compliance with Form DS-DE 19 – Constitutional Amendment Petition Form. It is important to note that there are specific requirements for the format of an initiative petition within the state of Florida regarding things such as word counts and languages. For more specific details, see Rule IS-2.009, F.A.C.
Circulating Petitions and Gathering Signatures
Upon approval, the Division of Elections issues a serial number for your petition. You’ll need to place this serial number on the lower right corner of all petition forms.
Upon receiving this serial number, your petition may be circulated for signatures by registered Florida voters. According to the Florida Constitution, the signatures required for the petition must:
- Be equivalent to 8% of the voters who cast votes in the last presidential election.
- Come from voters in at least half of Florida’s congressional districts.
Once the verified signatures are equivalent to 10% of the required signatures and are from at least 25% of Florida’s congressional districts, the Secretary of State sends the petition on to both the Attorney General and the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FEIC) for review.
The Secretary of State determines if an initiative petition meets the signature requirements by February 1 of an election year. You must submit your petition no later than January of that year. However the Department of State recommends submitting signed petition forms as soon as possible to ensure signature verification. Petition signatures remain valid for two years.
Verification in Florida
Signatures are valid when they include the following, according to the Florida Department of State website:
- Name (must be the name the voter used when registering to vote)
- Address (must include city and county)
- Date of birth or voter registration number (must match voter registration records)
- Original, ink signature.
- Date (month, day, and year) the voter signed the petition.
Additionally, the following must be true of the signature and the signer:
- The signer must have been a registered voter in the state at the time of signing and at the time the petition is verified.
- The petition is signed no more than 2 years prior to the signature verification date
- The registered voter has not previously signed a petition form for the exact same initiative petition that was verified as valid.
- The signature is submitted on an initiative petition form that has received approval from the Division of Elections.
The Secretary of State sends your petition on to the Attorney General once the signatures reach the a certain amount. This amount is 10% of the required signatures. The signatures must be from at least 25% of Florida’s congressional districts. Within 30 days of receipt, the Attorney General will petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion.
The Secretary of State also sends your petition to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FEIC). The FIEC reviews the proposed amendment and completes an analysis and financial impact statement.
If the Secretary of State determines the required signatures are present, he or she will then issue you a certificate of ballot position.
To read the complete requirements and restrictions for filing an initiative petition, please visit the 2018 Initiative Petition Handbook.
Contact us today to find out how to use our experience in the industry to get on the ballot.