Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and a coalition of other organizations are launching an effort to place a constitutional amendment on Florida's ballot next year that would both undo the six-week abortion ban that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last month and allow the procedure to take place up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. However, not only would this proposal need to win 60% of the vote in order to pass, supporters need to clear multiple hurdles to get on the ballot in the first place.
First, abortion rights advocates need to turn in about 892,000 valid signatures by Feb. 1, a figure that represents 8% of the total number of votes cast in the state's last presidential election. That's not all, though, because Florida law further requires that organizers hit this target by collecting 8% of the districtwide vote from at least half of the state's 28 congressional districts, a task that got tougher after DeSantis pushed through an aggressive gerrymander last year.
Florida Republicans have also enacted laws making it tougher to collect petitions, including one rule that makes it illegal to pay people based on the number of signatures they gather—something that experts say has doubled the cost of qualifying for the ballot. The conservative state Supreme Court presents yet another obstacle as well, as its members have prevented proposed amendments from reaching the ballot. In 2021, notably, the high court blocked two different amendments to allow the use of recreational marijuana after ruling that the proposals were confusingly worded.
If pro-choice groups overcome all of these impediments and reach the 2024 ballot, though, the amendment may be able to win the three-fifths supermajority it would need to prevail. Supporters have pointed to a March survey from the University of North Florida that found that only 22% of registered voters backed "a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy in Florida, with no exceptions for rape or incest," while 75% were against the idea.