State Senate approves redistricting plan; Fair Districts supporters cry foul

By | 01.18.12 | 8:19 am

Pic by My Florida House, via Facebook

The Florida Senate voted 34-6 yesterday to approve new congressional and state Senate district lines; opponents of the chamber’s maps were quick to argue that the new redistricting plans “do not comply” with the Fair Districts requirements approved by voters in 2010.

You can find details about the Senate’s two proposals here.

The final congressional map includes a redrawn District 13 that slices Manatee and Sarasota counties lengthwise, separating coastal voters from those east of I-75. The chairman of the Senate reapportionment committee — state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Destin — said two weeks ago that the change came about because of criticism of earlier maps by folks in Charlotte County, who wanted to see themselves lumped in with other coastal communities. At an August public hearing, though, numerous Sarasota residents told lawmakers that they wanted Sarasota and Manatee counties to be kept together, intact.

“At committee meeting after committee meeting, it was obvious that the Senate Reapportionment Committee was cherry-picking public testimony and maps to justify their plans while ignoring input that did not conform to what they intended to do,” write representatives from the League of Women Voters, the National Council of La Raza and Common Cause, responding to yesterday’s vote. “It was also obvious that many decisions were being made to favor incumbents.

“All of the rhetoric about the timing of our groups’ submission of maps is simply a smoke screen to obscure the fact that the Senate has now passed maps that do not comply with the applicable laws,” they continue, before quoting NAACP chairman Leon Russell:

The party in power is trying to protect its ability to stay in power. Some districts now contain a higher percentage of minority voters than needed to elect a candidate of their choice. This solidifies and perpetuates control.”

The groups responsible for the letter supported the push for Fair Districts amendments 5 and 6 in 2010. The two measures were created and approved by voters in order to limit the Legislature’s ability to gerrymander districts for partisan gain.

Read the full letter here:

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