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Florida Aims to Amend State Constitution with Partisan School Boards

Democrats interpreted the constitutional amendment as voter disenfranchisement, while Republicans believe it increases voter transparency.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution is on the brink of passing the Legislature, rolling through its final legislative stop.

Introduced by Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), SJR 94/HJR 31 would make district school board elections a partisan event, contradicting the current provisions in the Florida Constitution.

“This is an opportunity for us to give the voters a chance for full voter transparency for school board elections,” Gruters began. “We’re giving voters the full knowledge that they deserve, the full transparency. This is going to make it so voters know who they’re going to be voting for.”


Democrats opposed the resolution, citing fears of voter disenfranchisement and a bigger focus on parties over people.

“This bill is about disenfranchising Florida’s voters; more than a third of voters are nonpartisan,” Sen. Geraldine Thomspson (D-Orlando) said – explaining that NPA voters are not allowed to vote in primary elections. “It is more about party than good policy.”  

“I’m not in favor of even going down a road to start politicizing school board races,” Sen. Rosalind Osgood (D-Broward), stated. “We know what happens when we politicize things: we begin to make decisions based on party instead of focusing on people. This will make school board environments more toxic.”


Gruters disagreed, stating that school board elections are already under-the-table partisan events, often without the voter’s knowledge: “Both parties do it,” Gruter stated, explaining that this deception is at the expense of the public. “A lot of time it is who can trick the most voters.”

A joint resolution, SJR 94 can only amend the constitution if passed by a 3/5 vote in each chamber. Following today’s vote, the resolution has passed the Legislature, and will be placed on the ballot for Floridians to vote on. If it achieves 60 percent favorability, Florida’s Constitution will be amended.