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The Nov. 6 general election is still five months away, but it is not too early or too soon for voters to begin informing themselves about the many and varied state referendums due to appear on the ballot.

A baker’s dozen Florida constitutional amendments — on practically everything from gambling to taxes and terrorism — await action by the voters this fall.

“There will be 13 amendments on the ballot,” Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis told The Beacon, warning the ballot will be a long one, perhaps four pages.

That array of proposed changes in Florida’s basic law worries Lewis, who says voters may choose to leave portions of their decision documents blank. The prospect of  “under-voting” looms large this fall.

“Voter fatigue. With so much on the ballot — the later you get into the ballot, the more it will be under-voted.”

U.S. congressional races will top the ballot, followed by state rivalries for governor, Cabinet and legislative offices, followed by contests to fill county and municipal posts, as well as perhaps a few city charter-change propositions.

The constitutional amendments will be spread out over the state portion of the ballot.

The presence of 13 state amendments on the general-election ballot prompted the Volusia County Council earlier this month to postpone until 2019 a long-planned referendum on a 1/2-cent sales tax for transportation improvements and infrastructure.

The local-option sales tax is needed, its supporters say, to pay for critical and unmet capital needs. The delay in slating the countywide vote is a letdown for leaders such as Orange City Mayor Gary Blair.

“I’m disappointed that it’s not to be on the ballot. But the ballot is going to be so convoluted,” he said.

Because of the top-down order of organizing the ballot — federal, state and local, in descending order — the sales-tax question may be one of the last items on the multi-page form, and thus overshadowed by the long passages of prose preceding it.

The state constitutional amendments flow from three sources: eight come from the Constitution Revision Commission, while three come from the Florida Legislature, and the remaining two are the work of citizen initiatives, or petition drives.

The Constitution Revision Commission is a 37-member body that convenes every 20 years to recommend ways to fine-tune state government.

The attorney general is an automatic appointment, while 15 other members are selected by the governor; nine are named by the president of the Florida Senate; nine others are chosen by the speaker of the Florida House; and three others are picked by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.

The 2018 CRC has already finished work on its proposed constitutional amendments.

Unlike the proposed amendments submitted to the voters by the Florida Legislature or by groups of citizens, most of the CRC’s ballot propositions contain issues and matters unrelated to each other.


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