An AVM Investigative Essay by John M Jones III (12/11/18)
If you didn’t know our national, state, and local governments have seen fit to establish a minimum number of people present to pass the laws, and it’s called a quorum. According to Robert’s Rules, a quorum is the minimum number of voting members who must be present at a properly called meeting in order to conduct business (pass laws) in the name of the group. A quorum should consist of “as large as can be depended upon for being present at all meetings (1) Here are seven examples of how the quorum is currently being used today:
US Senate: A quorum in the Senate is when 51 out of 100 of the Senators are present. (2)
US House of Representatives: A quorum in the House of Representatives is when 218 out of 435 of the Members are present. (3)
US Supreme Court: Six out of nine Justices constitute a quorum. (4)
Florida State Senate: 21 of 40 Senator constitute a quorum (5)
Florid State House: 61 out of 120 members of the Florida House constitute a quorum to conduct business. (6)
Hillsborough County Commission: Four out of seven commissioners shall constitute a quorum to conduct business (7)
Tampa City Council: Four out of seven council members shall constitute a quorum. (8)
But did you know that in Florida there is not even similar citizen voter quorum for passing state constitutional amendments or Hillsborough county referendums? According to the Florida state constitution ANY constitution amendment will pass if it receives 60% of the votes ‘cast’, and (9) in Hillsborough county a charter referendum will pass with a measly 50% plus 1 of the votes ‘cast.’ (7) On the surface this language seems logical, but in reality, it is seriously flawed. Let’s use some recent examples from the 2018 elections.
Florida records show that as of October 2018 there were 13.35 million registered voters in Florida. (10) On Nov. 6th a pitiful 5.41 million people voted to ‘prohibit offshore oil and gas drilling and to prohibit vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces.’ When you break it down only 40.5 of the actual registered voters decided to change the Florida constitution, while 18.2% voted against it. (11)
Had there been a voter quorum law these amendments would only pass if they receive a quorum of votes or 60% from ALL registered state voters (not just vote cast) or approx. 8,010,000 yes votes and then we would not be in the sorry position where 5.41 million people or 25% of the population could change the laws for the approximate 21 million Florida residents. (12)
According to the supervisor of elections of Hillsborough county November 2018 there were 857k people on the voter rolls. On Nov. 6 a poultry sum of 282k of those voters decided to increase the entire county's sales taxes approx. $8,280,000,000 or 8.28 BILLION dollars over 30 years, and a sorry sum of 276k voters decided to give the already poorly run school board approx. $1,380,000,000 or 1.38 BILLION over 10 years. When you break it down only 32.9% & 32.2% respectively of the eligible county voters increased the county wide sales tax while only 24.5% & 24.9% respectively rejected the sales tax measures. (13)
Had there been a voter quorum law stating these referendums would only pass if they receive a quorum of votes or 50% plus one from ALL registered county voters (not just vote cast) or approx. 428,501 yes votes then we would not be in the sorry position where 282k or 276K or less than 20% of county residents could raise the taxes of the approximate 1.4 million Hillsborough county inhabitants. The extra cost over 30 years works out to $5,914 in additional sales taxes for every man, woman, and child. (14) These amendments and referendums would not have passed in any of the governing bodies listed above because they would not have met a quorum requirement to pass laws.
If there is no minimum voter quorum requirement for amendments or referendums, then theoretically the Florida constitution and the Hillsborough charter could be changed with nearly NO turnout. What if 1000 people voted and 600 voted yes? It’s still 60%! What if 500 people voted and 300 voted yes? It’s still 60%! What if 100 people voted and 60 voted yes? It’ still 60%! In Hillsborough county what if 1000 people voted and 501 voted yes? It’s still a majority? What if 100 people voted and 51 voted yes? It’s still a majority! What if three people voted and two of them voted yes? IT’S still a majority! Albeit extreme, I have proven that as few as TWO people out of three can change the law for 21 million Florida residents or 1.4 million Hillsborough county residents, respectively.
Constitutional Amendments and local referendums MUST utilize a voter quorum of registered voters because it’s been proven that small numbers of voters CAN change the laws for millions of people and that’s WRONG. A voter quorum law would not only put majority of the registered voters in charge, but it would also ensure unneeded, poorly written, or biased amendments & referendums would fail instead of easily passing with only a few votes. Finally, if the quorum rule is good enough for the US Congress & Supreme Court, Florida government & Supreme court, Florida county & city government, and for American businesses then why is it not good enough for the voters??
Final Note: State legislators, local elected officials, lobbyist, and citizens who create initiatives or referendums are 100% aware of the bug in the system that could literally allow amendments and referendum to pass with as little as three votes and they don’t care. They would rather take advantage of uninformed voters who don’t understand the consequences of their non-votes then educate voters, then to inspire more the voters to fulfil their civic duty so that our nation could truly be a country for the people by the people instead of a country of and for paid lobbyists AND crooked politicians!