§ 100.371 Initiatives; procedure for placement on ballot.
Overview of Statute
(1) Constitutional amendments proposed by initiative shall be placed on the ballot for the general election, provided the initiative petition has been filed with the Secretary of State no later than February 1 of the year the general election is held. A petition shall be deemed to be filed with the Secretary of State upon the date the secretary determines that valid and verified petition forms have been signed by the constitutionally required number and distribution of electors under this code.
(2) The sponsor of an initiative amendment shall, prior to obtaining any signatures, register as a political committee pursuant to s. 106.03 and submit the text of the proposed amendment to the Secretary of State, with the form on which the signatures will be affixed, and shall obtain the approval of the Secretary of State of such form. The Secretary of State shall adopt rules pursuant to s. 120.54 prescribing the style and requirements of such form. Upon filing with the Secretary of State, the text of the proposed amendment and all forms filed in connection with this section must, upon request, be made available in alternative formats.
(3)(a) A person may not collect signatures or initiative petitions for compensation unless the person is registered as a petition circulator with the Secretary of State.
(b) A citizen may challenge a petition circulator’s registration under this section by filing a petition in circuit court. If the court finds that the respondent is not a registered petition circulator, the court may enjoin the respondent from collecting signatures or initiative petitions for compensation until she or he is lawfully registered.
(4) An application for registration must be submitted in the format required by the Secretary of State and must include the following:
(a) The information required to be on the petition form under s. 101.161, including the ballot summary and title as approved by the Secretary of State.
(b) The applicant’s name, permanent address, temporary address, if applicable, and date of birth.
(c) An address in this state at which the applicant will accept service of process related to disputes concerning the petition process, if the applicant is not a resident of this state.
(d) A statement that the applicant consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state in resolving disputes concerning the petition process.
(e) Any information required by the Secretary of State to verify the applicant’s identity or address.
(5) All petitions collected by a petition circulator must contain, in a format required by the Secretary of State, a completed Petition Circulator’s Affidavit which includes:
(a) The circulator’s name and permanent address;
(b) The following statement, which must be signed by the circulator:
By my signature below, as petition circulator, I verify that the petition was signed in my presence. Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing Petition Circulator’s Affidavit and the facts stated in it are true.
(6) The division or the supervisor of elections shall make hard copy petition forms or electronic portable document format petition forms available to registered petition circulators. All such forms must contain information identifying the petition circulator to which the forms are provided. The division shall maintain a database of all registered petition circulators and the petition forms assigned to each. Each supervisor of elections shall provide to the division information on petition forms assigned to and received from petition circulators. The information must be provided in a format and at times as required by the division by rule. The division must update information on petition forms daily and make the information publicly available.
(7)(a) A sponsor that collects petition forms or uses a petition circulator to collect petition forms serves as a fiduciary to the elector signing the petition form, ensuring that any petition form entrusted to the petition circulator shall be promptly delivered to the supervisor of elections within 30 days after the elector signs the form. If a petition form collected by any petition circulator is not promptly delivered to the supervisor of elections, the sponsor is liable for the following fines:
- A fine in the amount of $50 for each petition form received by the supervisor of elections more than 30 days after the elector signed the petition form or the next business day, if the office is closed. A fine in the amount of $250 for each petition form received if the sponsor or petition circulator acted willfully.
- A fine in the amount of $500 for each petition form collected by a petition circulator which is not submitted to the supervisor of elections. A fine in the amount of $1,000 for any petition form not submitted if the sponsor or petition circulator acted willfully.
(b) A showing by the sponsor that the failure to deliver the petition form within the required timeframe is based upon force majeure or impossibility of performance is an affirmative defense to a violation of this subsection. The fines described in this subsection may be waived upon a showing that the failure to deliver the petition form promptly is based upon force majeure or impossibility of performance.
(8) If the Secretary of State reasonably believes that a person or entity has committed a violation of this section, the secretary may refer the matter to the Attorney General for enforcement. The Attorney General may institute a civil action for a violation of this section or to prevent a violation of this section. An action for relief may include a permanent or temporary injunction, a restraining order, or any other appropriate order.
(9) The division shall adopt by rule a complaint form for an elector who claims to have had his or her signature misrepresented, forged, or not delivered to the supervisor. The division shall also adopt rules to ensure the integrity of the petition form gathering process, including rules requiring sponsors to account for all petition forms used by their agents. Such rules may require a sponsor or petition circulator to provide identification information on each petition form as determined by the department as needed to assist in the accounting of petition forms.
(10) The date on which an elector signs a petition form is presumed to be the date on which the petition circulator received or collected the petition form.
(11)(a) An initiative petition form circulated for signature may not be bundled with or attached to any other petition. Each signature shall be dated when made and shall be valid until the next February 1 occurring in an even-numbered year for the purpose of the amendment appearing on the ballot for the general election occurring in that same year, provided all other requirements of law are met. The sponsor shall submit signed and dated forms to the supervisor of elections for the county of residence listed by the person signing the form for verification of the number of valid signatures obtained. If a signature on a petition is from a registered voter in another county, the supervisor shall notify the petition sponsor of the misfiled petition. The supervisor shall promptly verify the signatures within 60 days after receipt of the petition forms and payment of a fee for the actual cost of signature verification incurred by the supervisor. However, for petition forms submitted less than 60 days before February 1 of an even-numbered year, the supervisor shall promptly verify the signatures within 30 days after receipt of the form and payment of the fee for signature verification. The supervisor shall promptly record, in the manner prescribed by the Secretary of State, the date each form is received by the supervisor, and the date the signature on the form is verified as valid. The supervisor may verify that the signature on a form is valid only if:
- The form contains the original signature of the purported elector.
- The purported elector has accurately recorded on the form the date on which he or she signed the form.
- The form sets forth the purported elector’s name, address, city, county, and voter registration number or date of birth.
- The purported elector is, at the time he or she signs the form and at the time the form is verified, a duly qualified and registered elector in the state.
- The signature was obtained legally, including that if a paid petition circulator was used, the circulator was validly registered under subsection (3) when the signature was obtained.
The supervisor shall retain the signature forms for at least 1 year following the election in which the issue appeared on the ballot or until the division notifies the supervisors of elections that the committee that circulated the petition is no longer seeking to obtain ballot position.
(b) Each supervisor shall post the actual cost of signature verification on his or her website and may increase such cost, as necessary, on February 2 of each even-numbered year. The division shall also publish each county’s current cost on its website. The division and each supervisor shall biennially review available technology aimed at reducing verification costs.
(c) On the last day of each month, or on the last day of each week from December 1 of an odd-numbered year through February 1 of the following year, each supervisor shall post on his or her website the aggregate number of verified valid signatures and the distribution of such signatures by congressional district for each proposed amendment proposed by initiative, along with the following information specific to the reporting period: the total number of signed petition forms received, the total number of signatures verified, the distribution of verified valid signatures by congressional district, and the total number of verified petition forms forwarded to the Secretary of State.
(12) The Secretary of State shall determine from the signatures verified by the supervisors of elections the total number of verified valid signatures and the distribution of such signatures by congressional districts, and the division shall post such information on its website at the same intervals specified in paragraph (11)(c). Upon a determination that the requisite number and distribution of valid signatures have been obtained, the secretary shall issue a certificate of ballot position for that proposed amendment and shall assign a designating number pursuant to s. 101.161.
(13)(a) At the same time the Secretary of State submits an initiative petition to the Attorney General pursuant to s. 15.21, the secretary shall submit a copy of the initiative petition to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference. Within 75 days after receipt of a proposed revision or amendment to the State Constitution by initiative petition from the Secretary of State, the Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall complete an analysis and financial impact statement to be placed on the ballot of the estimated increase or decrease in any revenues or costs to state or local governments and the overall impact to the state budget resulting from the proposed initiative. The 75-day time limit is tolled when the Legislature is in session. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall submit the financial impact statement to the Attorney General and Secretary of State.
(b) Immediately upon receipt of a proposed revision or amendment from the Secretary of State, the coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research shall contact the person identified as the sponsor to request an official list of all persons authorized to speak on behalf of the named sponsor and, if there is one, the sponsoring organization at meetings held by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference. All other persons shall be deemed interested parties or proponents or opponents of the initiative. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall provide an opportunity for any representatives of the sponsor, interested parties, proponents, or opponents of the initiative to submit information and may solicit information or analysis from any other entities or agencies, including the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
(c) All meetings of the Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall be open to the public. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, jointly, shall be the sole judge for the interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of this subsection.
- The Financial Impact Estimating Conference is established to review, analyze, and estimate the financial impact of amendments to or revisions of the State Constitution proposed by initiative. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall consist of four principals: one person from the Executive Office of the Governor; the coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, or his or her designee; one person from the professional staff of the Senate; and one person from the professional staff of the House of Representatives. Each principal shall have appropriate fiscal expertise in the subject matter of the initiative. A Financial Impact Estimating Conference may be appointed for each initiative.
- Principals of the Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall reach a consensus or majority concurrence on a clear and unambiguous financial impact statement, no more than 150 words in length, and immediately submit the statement to the Attorney General. Nothing in this subsection prohibits the Financial Impact Estimating Conference from setting forth a range of potential impacts in the financial impact statement. Any financial impact statement that a court finds not to be in accordance with this section shall be remanded solely to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference for redrafting. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall redraft the financial impact statement within 15 days.
- If the Supreme Court has rejected the initial submission by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference and no redraft has been approved by the Supreme Court by 5 p.m. on the 75th day before the election, the following statement shall appear on the ballot: “The impact of this measure, if any, has not been determined at this time.”
(d) The financial impact statement must be separately contained and be set forth after the ballot summary as required in s. 101.161(1).
- If the financial impact statement projects a net negative impact on the state budget, the ballot must include the statement required by s. 101.161(1)(b).
- If the financial impact statement projects a net positive impact on the state budget, the ballot must include the statement required by s. 101.161(1)(c).
- If the financial impact statement estimates an indeterminate financial impact or if the members of the Financial Impact Estimating Conference are unable to agree on the statement required by this subsection, the ballot must include the statement required by s. 101.161(1)(d).
- Any financial impact statement that the Supreme Court finds not to be in accordance with this subsection shall be remanded solely to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference for redrafting, provided the court’s advisory opinion is rendered at least 75 days before the election at which the question of ratifying the amendment will be presented. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall prepare and adopt a revised financial impact statement no later than 5 p.m. on the 15th day after the date of the court’s opinion.
- If, by 5 p.m. on the 75th day before the election, the Supreme Court has not issued an advisory opinion on the initial financial impact statement prepared by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference for an initiative amendment that otherwise meets the legal requirements for ballot placement, the financial impact statement shall be deemed approved for placement on the ballot.
- In addition to the financial impact statement required by this subsection, the Financial Impact Estimating Conference shall draft an initiative financial information statement. The initiative financial information statement should describe in greater detail than the financial impact statement any projected increase or decrease in revenues or costs that the state or local governments would likely experience if the ballot measure were approved. If appropriate, the initiative financial information statement may include both estimated dollar amounts and a description placing the estimated dollar amounts into context. The initiative financial information statement must include both a summary of not more than 500 words and additional detailed information that includes the assumptions that were made to develop the financial impacts, workpapers, and any other information deemed relevant by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference.
- The Department of State shall have printed, and shall furnish to each supervisor of elections, a copy of the summary from the initiative financial information statements. The supervisors shall have the summary from the initiative financial information statements available at each polling place and at the main office of the supervisor of elections upon request.
- The Secretary of State and the Office of Economic and Demographic Research shall make available on the Internet each initiative financial information statement in its entirety. In addition, each supervisor of elections whose office has a website shall post the summary from each initiative financial information statement on the website. Each supervisor shall include a copy of each summary from the initiative financial information statements and the Internet addresses for the information statements on the Secretary of State’s and the Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s websites in the publication or mailing required by s. 101.20.
(14) The Department of State may adopt rules in accordance with s. 120.54 to carry out the provisions of subsections (1)–(14).
(15) No provision of this code shall be deemed to prohibit a private person exercising lawful control over privately owned property, including property held open to the public for the purposes of a commercial enterprise, from excluding from such property persons seeking to engage in activity supporting or opposing initiative amendments.
s. 15, ch. 79-365; s. 12, ch. 83-251; s. 30, ch. 84-302; s. 22, ch. 97-13; s. 9, ch. 2002-281; s. 3, ch. 2002-390; s. 3, ch. 2004-33; s. 28, ch. 2005-278; s. 4, ch. 2006-119; s. 25, ch. 2007-30; s. 1, ch. 2007-231; s. 14, ch. 2008-95; s. 23, ch. 2011-40; s. 3, ch. 2019-64; s. 3, ch. 2020-15.
Laws 2019, c. 2019-64, § 6, provides: “The provisions of this act apply to all revisions or amendments to the State Constitution by initiative that are proposed for the 2020 election ballot and each ballot thereafter; provided, however, that nothing in this act affects the validity of any petition form gathered before the effective date of this act [June 7, 2019] or any contract entered into before the effective date of this act [June 7, 2019].”
Laws 2020, c. 2020-15, § 6, provides: This act does not require the Financial Impact Estimating Conference to amend or revise a financial impact statement that has been submitted to the Secretary of State before the effective date of this act. The provisions of this act, including the ballot requirements for certain disclosures and statements, apply to constitutional amendments proposed by initiative which are proposed for the 2020 general election and each election thereafter; provided, however, that nothing in this act affects the validity of any petition form gathered before the effective date of this act or any contract entered into before the effective date of this act. Petition forms gathered before the effective date of this act shall be governed by the laws existing at the time that the form was initially gathered.
1. Definition for Department
The Department of State. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(7).
2. Definition for Supervisor
The supervisor of elections. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(36).
3. Definition for Polling Place
The building which contains the polling room where ballots are cast. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(27).
4. Definition for General Election
An election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the even-numbered years, for the purpose of filling national, state, county, and district offices and for voting on constitutional amendments not otherwise provided for by law. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(16).
5. Definition for Alternative Formats
(3) “Alternative formats” has the meaning ascribed in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 42 U.S.C. ss. 12101 et seq., including specifically the technical assistance manuals promulgated thereunder, as amended. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(4).
6. Definition for Political Committee
1. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual, that, in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during a single calendar year:
a. Accepts contributions for the purpose of making contributions to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;
b. Accepts contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue;
c. Makes expenditures that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue; or
d. Makes contributions to a common fund, other than a joint checking account between spouses, from which contributions are made to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;
2. The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative who intends to seek the signatures of registered electors.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the following entities are not considered political committees for purposes of this chapter:
1. National political parties, the state and county executive committees of political parties, and affiliated party committees regulated by chapter 103.
2. Corporations regulated by chapter 607 or chapter 617 or other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, if their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates, political parties, affiliated party committees, or political committees or expenditures in support of or opposition to an issue from corporate or business funds and if no contributions are received by such corporations or business entities.
3. Electioneering communications organizations as defined in subsection (9). Fla. Stat. § 106.11(16).
7. Definition for Issue
A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).
8. Definition for Ballot
As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, ballot means the card, tape, or other vehicle upon which the elector’s choices are recorded. Fla. Stat. § 101.5603(2).
9. Definition for Person
An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).
10. Definition for Elector
“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(15).
11. Definition for Division
The Division of Elections of the Department of State. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(8).
12. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
Case Name: In re Advisory Opinion to Atty. Gen. re Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply
Citation: 177 So.3d 235
Case Summary: In re Advisory Opinon to Atty. Gen. re Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply held in part that the proposed amendment at issue's Financial Impact Statement was clear, unambiguous, less than 75 words, and was limited to only addressing the increase/decrease in revenues or costs to the state and/or local government.
Case Name: In re Advisory Opinion to Atty. Gen. re Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions
Citation: 132 So.3d 786
Case Summary: In re Advisory Opinion to Atty. Gen. re Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions held in part that the proposed amendment's Financial Impact Statement complied with statutory requirements, as it was clear, unambiguous, less than 75 words, and only addressed whether the effect of the amendment would increase or decrease the amount of revenue or costs to the state or local governments.
Case Name: Browning v. Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC
Citation: 29 So.3d 1053
Case Summary: Browning v. Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC held that the statute establishing petition signature revocation procedures violated the citizen initiative provision of the state constitution and as such were unconstitutional, since it was neither neutral nor nondiscriminatory, nor was it necessary to ensure ballot integrity. The case further held that the state supreme court had mandatory appellate jurisdiction because the district court of appeal implemented regulations that impacted the citizen initiative process.
Regulations & Guidance
Fla. Jur. 2d Constitutional Law s 13, Statutory authority for placement on ballot
Fla. Jur. 2d Constitutional law s 14, Financial impact statement
Fla. Jur. 2d Constitutional Law s 15, Financial impact statement-Particular amendments
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 235, Constitutional amendments-Procedure for placement on ballot
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:106, Special state issues