Constitution of 1885

Delegates convened in June 1885 to revise Florida’s state constitution. The existing constitution had been in effect since 1868, when it was adopted as part of Florida’s reentry into the United States following the Civil War. The 1885 constitution legitimized poll taxes as a prerequisite for voting, which ultimately disproportionately disenfranchised African Americans and many poor whites.

Constitution of 1885




Section 1. Every male person of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, that shall, at the time of registration, be a citizen of the United States, or that shall have declared his intention to become such in conformity to the laws of the United States, and that shall have resided and had his habitation, domicile, home and place of permanent abode in Florida for one year, and in the county for six months, shall in such county be deemed a qualified elector at all elections under this Constitution.

Section 2. The Legislature, at its first session after the ratification of this Constitution, shall provide by law for the registration of all the legally qualified voters in each county, and for the returns of elections; and shall also provide that after the completion, from time to time, of such registration, no person not duly registered according to law shall be allowed to vote.

Section 3. Every elector shall at the time of his registration take and subscribe to the following oath: "I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Florida, that I am twenty-one years of age, and have been a resident of the State of Florida for twelve months and of this county for six months, and I am qualified to vote under the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida."

Section 4. No person under guardianship, non compos mentis or insane shall be qualified to vote at any election, nor shall any person convicted of felony by a court of record be qualified to vote at any election unless restored to civil rights.

Section 5. The Legislature shall have power to, and shall, enact the necessary laws to exclude from every office of honor, power, trust or profit, civil or military, within the State, and from the right of suffrage, all persons convicted of bribery, perjury, larceny, or of infamous crime, or who shall make, or become directly or indirectly interested in, any bet or wager, the result of which shall depend upon any election; or that shall hereafter fight a duel or send or accept a challenge to fight, or that shall be a second to either party, or that shall be the bearer of such challenge or acceptance; but the legal