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The most bizarre ballot initiative this year? The Florida referendum on frying and offshore drilling. – Vox

The most bizarre ballot initiative this year? The Florida referendum on frying and offshore drilling. – Vox

In Florida, voters will be asked on Tuesday to drill with fossil fuels and ban indoor vapors – together, in the same referendum.

Yes, you read that right.

Amendment 9 of Florida is a real ballot initiative that combines two totally unrelated problems. But if 60 per cent of voters would sign it, the amendment would revise the state constitution to ban both oil and gas drilling at sea and the use of e-cigarettes at covered workplaces.

Apart from that, the measures seem reasonable. The use of e-cigarettes has exploded in every state in the US and several states have already gone ahead with indoor banning – a direction recommended by public health experts (although there is still no evidence on the health effects of second-hand vapor).

Florida also has existing regulations to restrict drilling at sea. But the anchoring of a ban in the state constitution would protect the shores and wildlife in the state from oil and gas exploitation that could harm them and hamper Florida's highly touristy sector.

The odd link is justified by advocates as an "amendment to the environment". "The problems together provide a message of clean air, clean water," Lisa Carlton, a former Florida senator and author of the proposal to curb the use of e-cigarettes, told Grist.

Yet, as the professor of political science at the University of South Florida, Susan MacManus, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal: "It does not make sense to the average voter why they were put together."


View of Miami.
The Agostini through Getty Images

Whether Florida 9 is logical or not, it is absolutely legal. As Grist & # 39; s Justine Calma pointed out, Florida is the only state with a committee – the Constitutional Revision Commission – that suggests constitutional changes. They meet every 20 years and have the power to combine numerous constitutional amendments into separate initiatives to table amendments.

The argument for bundling, in addition to the committee's view that the problems are of the same nature, is that it streamlines the mood. This year, the committee exercised that right in one of the twelve constitutional amendments that the electorate will decide on these elections.

But in his analysis of the opinion of six local papers on Amendment 9, Florida Today found that several editorial committees supported the measures, but raised philosophical objections when deciding on various issues with a single vote.

Another attack on Amendment 9: it will also appear at the bottom of the vote, where voters often skip problems, McManus said, so passage seems unlikely.

If the measure does indeed fail, Florida's Constitution Revision Commission may think twice in the future before they bundle.

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