Congress passed a series of laws known as the Reconstruction Acts in 1867. These laws required the former Confederate states to dissolve existing state governments, register all eligible men (white or African-American) to vote, and then hold conventions to create new state constitutions. To be readmitted to the United States, each state’s constitution had to accept the end of slavery and adopt the 14th amendment, which guaranteed equal rights for all men, regardless of race. Florida’s voters selected delegates to a state constitutional convention in November 1867. The convention met on January 20, 1868, and the new constitution was ratified by the voters the following May.
Be it Ordained by the people of Florida, in Convention assembled, That the Constitution framed by this Convention, and signed on the 25th day of February, A. D. 1868, be and the same is hereby submitted for ratification to the persons registered and to be registered under the provisions of the several acts of Congress, entitled “An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States, passed March 2d, 1867; An Act supplementary to An Act entitled An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States, passed March 2d, 1867, and to facilitate restoration; An Act supplementary to An Act entitled An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States, passed on the 2d day of March, 1867; and the act supplementary thereto, passed on the 23d day of March,” at an election to be conducted according to the provisions of the said acts of Congress.
Be it further ordained, That an election shall be held in various counties of this State, on the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of May, A. D. 1868, for the purpose of voting on the ratification of the Constitution framed by this Convention, and for the election of a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, one member of Congress, State Senators and Representatives, and county officers; and that the judges or inspectors of election appointed, or to be appointed, by the Commanding General of the Third Military District, to conduct and supervise the election for ratification, as provided in the several aforesaid acts of Congress, shall also conduct and supervise the election for said officers.
Be it further ordained, That at each place of voting, beside the ballot box provided by the said judges of election to receive the ballots for and against ratification, the said judges shall provide a separate ballot box for the reception of ballots for Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Member of Congress, State Senators and Representatives, and County officers, and that a separate poll list shall be prepared by said judges of election of all persons qualified to vote for said officers; and all persons qualified to vote under the provisions of the Constitution shall be allowed to vote for said officers.
Be it further ordained, That the vote for Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Member of Congress, State Senators and Representatives, and County officers, shall be securely enveloped and sealed by the judges of election, and transmitted by prompt and sage conveyance to the city of Tallahassee, and delivered to a Board of Canvassers of three persons herby appointed and authorized, to wit: Hon. Horatio Jenkins, Jr., President of Constitutional Convention; Auburn Erwin, of Columbia County, and O. Morgan, of Leon County, within thirty days after said election; and the said Board of Canvassers shall meet at Tallahassee within ten days after said election and canvass the votes for said officers; and the said Board of Canvassers shall issue the certificates of election under their hands and seals; and the said Board of Canvassers shall make public proclamation of said returns in at least three of the newspapers published in this State, showing what persons shall have been elected to said offices severally; and thereupon the Governor of the State, and the Lieutenant-Governor thereof elected, shall assemble at the Capitol and be sworn into office by the Judge of the District Court of the United States, or in his absence by any person authorized by the laws of the United States to administer oaths.
Be it further ordained, That a public notice containing this ordinance, signed by the President and Secretary of this Convention, shall be issued on the day after the final adjournment of this Convention, and shall be published in at least three of the newspapers in this State.
Be it further ordained, That the persons who shall act as judges or inspectors of election, together with one clerk in each county, to be by them appointed, shall each receive five dollars per day for their services in conducting, supervising, and making out the returns of the election for said officers, and the legislature at its first session shall provide by law for the payment of the expenses to be incurred thereby, and for any and all expenses incurred under any by virtue of the provisions of this ordinance.
Passed in open Convention, February 24th, A. D. 1868.
HORATIO JENKINS, JR., President.
SHERMAN CONANT, Secretary.