In a new letter addressed to the leaders of the Florida Legislature, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, Democracia and Common Cause call lawmakers’ redistricting timetable “contrary to the spirit of the Florida Constitution.”
The groups go on to urge the Legislature to “stop using taxpayer dollars” to fight the “Fair Districts” amendments, “start presenting” possible redistricting maps and lift what they call a “gag order” for legislators attending upcoming public hearings on redistricting.
”Later this month, you will begin hearings throughout the state, which have been billed as ‘listening tours,’” reads the letter. “Legislators in attendance have been told they must remain totally silent. They are not to speak at the hearings at all — not even to answer questions asked by their constituents. Apparently, legislators will not be presenting any maps for citizens to review or comment on.”
The letter continues:
We believe that these hearings would be much more useful and meaningful if citizens and their representatives could engage in real dialogue about how they want the maps to be drawn. Hearing from legislators about how they intend to comply with the new redistricting rules will engender public confidence, which might counteract the fact that the Legislature has spent and is still spending large amounts of tax dollars to fight the amendments.
Many other states have already presented maps to their citizens for review or have already adopted maps, giving voters and candidates for newly drawn districts ample opportunity to get to know each other. Florida’s schedule for redistricting creates unnecessary pressure as primary voting approaches. According to your schedule, it is highly unlikely that Floridians will know their new districts before qualifying, and the process could take much longer if the maps you draw do not comply with the law. (The House’s lawyer, Miguel DeGrandy, has said there is a “100% chance” that the maps will be challenged in court.)
The delay written into your timeline is unacceptable, unfair to the voters, and contrary to the spirit of the Florida Constitution.
In conclusion, the organizations urge the Legislature to “stop using taxpayer dollars to fight” the implementation of Amendments 5 and 6, the two so-called “Fair Districts” amendments approved by Florida voters last fall; “start presenting maps for citizens to review”; and “lift the gag order you have placed on legislators for the hearings.”
Read the letter in full: