Voters and politicians alike are up in arms over so-called “unfair districts” in the state of Florida. The boundaries of congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years, but many argue the boundaries are set merely to benefit incumbent politicians.
Critics have singled out congressional District 3 — which encompasses portions of Alachua, Duval, Orange, and Seminole counties — as particularly unbalanced. Rep. Corrine Brown, who calls the district home, disagrees. A clash on public radio last week made that clear.
District 3 includes a heavy amount of minorities and covers many poverty-stricken areas. And in a district in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 168,000, it’s no surprise that a Democrat (Brown) has represented the district since 1993.
Brown has long been accused of gerrymandering and using her political clout to ensure that her district is drawn in order for her to achieve maximum voter potential. One of Brown’s opponents in the 2010 race, civil rights attorney Scott Fortune, recently debuted his documentary critiquing the redistricting process. The film, which debuted last Thursday night at a fundraiser held at Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art, was advertised as a provocative movie that would disclose ”the shameful segregation within Florida’s Third Congressional District.”
Amendments 5 and 6 are proposed measures supported by Fair Districts Florida that would ensure that both legislative and congressional districts could not be drawn to favor a particular political party or incumbent. Service Employees International Union, based in Washington, D.C., has donated at least $225,000 in support of the amendments. In May, governor and senatorial candidate Charlie Crist pledged his support for the proposed amendments.
On Thursday’s “First Coast Connect,” a Jacksonville public radio program, Rep. Brown was set to be interviewed about a recent lawsuit she filed requesting the redistricting amendments be stricken from the forthcoming ballot. Unfortunately for host Melissa Ross, along with many listeners hoping to hear the congresswoman’s defense, Brown hung up within the first five minutes of the interview. Before the argument came to a head, Brown said this of her recently filed claim: “As far as I’m concerned, this is a legal issue that should be handled in the courts.”
Several callers to the show disagreed, saying that her argument “wasn’t very poignant” and that her only desire was to “protect her own district and ensure her election.” While Brown has said in previous interviews that the 1965 Voting Rights Act was enacted in order to draw together communities of interest, many argue that not changing the district’s lines only perpetuates institutional racism, diluting the amount of minorities in neighboring districts — and at the same time guaranteeing Brown’s reelection.
[Pic via flickr.com/photos/24847875@N05]