Website helps voters grasp amendments

For voters intimidated by the stuffy language of the six constitutional amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot, help is now available.

The Collins Center for Public Policy created a Web site,, highlighting the six amendments with the use of flash video for student voters.

“The Web site appeals to younger voters and voters who are not going to read all of those amendment essays,” said Rod Petrey, president of the Collins Center.

The 20-year-old non-profit organization, is named after the late LeRoy Collins, governor of Florida from 1955 to 1961. Funding for the $100,000 project came from the Florida Bar Foundations, the P.L. Dodge Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice.

The Collins Center is targeting youth because it predicts a record number of young voters will turnout in this year’s election, Petrey said. Approximately 1,404 voters turned out last Monday to kick off early voting at the Leon County Courthouse.  Nearly 800 of those voters were FAMU students.

“Young voters have a real chance of determining the future of the state,” Petrey said.

Web site visitors can simply click on an amendment and a two-minute video explains the amendment in simple terms. Along with a video, gives the amendments’ history, pros and cons and its potential effect on Florida residents. The Web site also includes information about the Florida Constitution and the amendment process.

“In the age of social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and YouTube, the center aims to provide information on a platform people want to read,” said Jon DeVries, vice president of strategic development for the Collins Center.

Students are looking forward to using the site as a tool to understand the sometimes-confusing language of the amendments.

“I am glad that I can watch a video about the amendments,” said Jessica Statton, a freshman general studies student. ” I wouldn’t want to vote against or for something I don’t understand.”

According DeVries, the organization’s nonpartisan status makes it a more reliable resource.

Petrey said the website allows visitors to interact in web forums like debating issues online.

“It is hard to get anything that is balanced like this Web site,” said Petrey.