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

Transcript

ARTICLE VII.

CENSUS AND APPORTIONMENT.

Section 1. The Senators representing the odd numbered districts, as said districts are now designated, whose terms have not expired, and those Senators representing even numbered districts, to be elected A. D. 1886, under the Constitution of 1868, shall be the first Senate under this Constitution; and the members of the Assembly to be elected A. D. 1886 shall be the first House of Representatives under this Constitution, and the Senate and House of Representatives thus constituted shall be the first Legislature under this Constitution, and the terms of office of each of the said Senators and members of the House of Representatives shall expire at the election for Senators and members of the House of Representatives A. D. 1888, and in that year a new Senate and House of Representatives shall be elected.

Section 2. The Legislatures that convene in the year 1889 and thereafter, shall consist of not more than thirty-two members of the Senate, and of not more than sixty-eight members of the House of Representatives. The members of the House of Representatives shall be elected for terms of two years, and the members of the Senate shall be elected for terms of four years, except as hereafter provided, the elections for members of the Senate and House of Representatives to be held at the same time and places. The terms of Senators elected in 1888 from districts designated by even numbers, shall expire at the end of two years from that date, and thereafter all Senators shall be elected for four years, so that one-half of the whole number shall be elected biennially.

Section 3. The Legislature that shall meet A. D. 1887, and those that shall meet every ten years thereafter, shall apportion the representation in the Senate, the whole number of Senators not to exceed thirty-two members; and