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    Florida abortion-rights backers ‘confident’ they have signatures to make 2024 ballot
    • December 20, 2023

    Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights say they are on track to hit a major milestone needed to get the issue before Florida voters in next year’s election.

    Floridians Protecting Freedom reported Tuesday it will submit 1.4 million signatures to election supervisors by the end of the year, well above the nearly 900,000 needed to make the ballot. That topped the group’s initial goal of 1.25 million signatures.

    “We’re confident we’re going to submit enough petitions to get on the ballot,” said Campaign Director Lauren Brenzel.

    If it makes the ballot, the amendment must win at least 60% of the vote to secure passage.

    The state has until Feb. 1 to verify the signatures to ensure they come from eligible voters and meet other requirements. As of Tuesday, the state reported that 753,762 of the required 891,523 signatures had been verified. Nothing is official until the state certifies that requirements have been met.

    The signature benchmark equals 8% of the voters in the last presidential election. Florida also requires ballot initiatives get broad support across the state with a requirement that the same proportion of signatures be collected in at least half of the state’s congressional districts.

    Work is still being done in targeted congressional districts across the state to qualify, Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book said in a social media post.

    “It’s clear our campaign to give power to the people is on track to win back our rights,” she said.

    Abortion rights supporters are making a final push for outstanding petitions to be signed and submitted by Friday.

    The ballot initiative’s summary states in part, “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

    If the amendment meets the signature requirement, it will need to clear another hurdle to get on the ballot.

    Florida Supreme Court could deny voters a say on abortion rights

    The Florida Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservative justices, must approve the ballot initiative’s language. The high court is tasked with evaluating proposed citizen ballot initiatives to determine if the language is clear, won’t mislead voters and deals with a single subject.

    Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody has argued that the ballot summary will confuse voters because it doesn’t define the term “viability.” Supporters say the term has a “well-understood, commonly accepted meaning” as “the point at which a fetus could survive outside the womb.”

    Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That law will take effect if the Supreme Court upholds a 15-week abortion ban passed last year.



    ​ Orange County Register