It takes 766,200 validated signatures of Florida voters to get to the ballot for a citizen petition for a statewide constitutional amendment.
Yes, Supreme Court review/approval and all that, but the first (really) big hurdle is getting enough signatures through the pipe. This is a process of getting the actual signature on an actual piece of paper (yes, paper!) to the local supervisors of elections. And then that signature is confirmed locally and then sent to the Secretary of State’s office, where it is considered “validated.” It is supposed to take 30 days — but that is sort of a suggestion.
And then there is the deadline.
The current deadline to get all the signatures through the process is February 1. To clarify, that’s not, “You must have all signatures in by February 1, that’s “You have to have them in, sent to local elections supervisors, reviewed and validated by the Secretary of State by February 1.”
That’s a very big difference.
The general rule of thumb in the pre-HB 5 political environment was that you had to have all of the petitions submitted before Christmas because the local officials would often take the full thirty days to validate and transmit them to the state. Post HB 5, you likely needed to add a few weeks, if not more.
The question recurs.
Will Make it Legal Florida (MILF) make it?
At this stage, even the Make it Legal Florida (of course, we are talking about making marijuana legal as a recreational product) sponsors are admitting they don’t have the time and will fall short of the current deadline. Further, they have filed a lawsuit asking the court to extend the time by 30 days — and that suit is not without merit. In fact, quite publicly, the Secretary of State’s system for verification and validation has been intermittent at best, with slowdowns, breakdowns, and other failures. It certainly has put a kink in the hose and has likely caused unnecessary delays. Will a court agree? Who knows?
But does even the extension give the MILF folks enough time?
Consider this: Since announcing that they have begun gathering signatures, as of today (Jan. 7), they are averaging just under 2,000 per day. That’s not an insignificant number. Since Christmas, they have picked up the pace and are having just over 3,000 signatures validated each day.
Sounds good, except as of today they need a nearly impossible 21,000 per day if the deadline is not extended and nearly 9,500 per day if it is.
What that means is — even with the 30-day extension — they will need to have petitions validated at more than triple the rate they are at right now.
I don’t think they have a line on this at PredictIt, but if they did …