Voting rights organizations sounded the alarm last week over the Florida Senate’s redrawn maps of legislative and congressional districts, minority representation and a lack of transparency.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office over the weekend provided a Congressional map that also drew criticism.
“This redistricting process is moving through the Legislature without adequate discussion or consideration of its impact on minority voters,” League of Women Voters of Florida president Cecile Scoon said in a statement posted to Senate Maps Tuesday. “We hope lawmakers will pause and consider the impact of these actions before approving the new maps.”
The Senate is due to debate the cards on Wednesday, the sixth working day of the 2022 session of the legislature.
The House of Representatives will come up with its own congressional and legislative maps. But these cards are still at the mint level.
On Sunday, DeSantis’ office submitted its own map to Congress, on the official redistricting portal, the www.floridaredistricting.gov website.
It was an unusual move for a governor, according to POLITICO and other media. He was quickly denounced on Twitter as unduly favoring Republican candidates among the delegation from Florida’s 28 congressional districts.
“I look forward to my team filing him and his staff to fully understand the illegal partisan motivations behind this map,” attorney Marc Elias tweeted Monday. He specializes in pro-democracy litigation nationwide and is part of a legal team fighting GOP-sponsored electoral reforms passed by the Florida Legislature last year.
Elias tweeted on Tuesday that Florida is more likely to be sued due to DeSantis’ interference, but he did not provide specifics.
DeSantis General Counsel Ryan Newman issued a statement to Florida Politics on Monday. He said: “We have legal issues with the Congressional redistricting maps pending in the Legislative Assembly. We have submitted an alternative proposal, which we can support, that meets federal and state requirements and addresses our legal concerns, while striving to increase district compactness, minimize county splits where possible, and protect minority voting populations. Because the Governor must approve any Congressional map passed by the Legislature, we wanted to provide our proposal as soon as possible and in a transparent manner.
Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orange County tweeted Monday, “His card is actually illegal and it burns minority representation. I call BS for their “legal” concerns.
The president of the League of Women Voters of Florida told the Phoenix in a separate statement on Tuesday that she sees immediate cause for concern in DeSantis’ proposal.
Scoon said: “The League is in the process of analyzing the Governor’s proposed map and has not yet had the opportunity for a full review, but a preliminary review of the Governor’s redistricting plan for Congressional maps. seems to give insufficient adhesion to the Fair. Districts created by Floridian Citizen Initiative in 2010 and the VRA [federal Voting Rights Act] 1965.”
“Upon initial examination, the Governor’s map appears to provide one less African-American coalition district than the Senate map.”
First analyzes by Dave’s recut and The redistricting network suggest that DeSantis’ proposed map of Congress creates districts that favor Republicans in 18 districts and Democrats in 10, a change from the current districts that would reduce the number of Democrats likely to be elected. The issue aligns with racial concerns as some minority districts, particularly majority black districts, tend to favor Democrats.
The League, along with the Fair Districts Coalition, which includes Florida Common Cause, All On The Line, Florida Conservation Voters, Unidos US and others, told Senate leaders by letter last week and through testimony in no one that the GOP-controlled legislature is setting a low bar by “protecting” minority districts created using 2010 census data, but not creating additional minority districts justified by significant growth since then in populations black and Hispanic, as documented in the 2020 census.
“It is undeniable that Florida’s minority population has grown since the current maps were created in 2016, which used 2010 census data,” Scoon said in a league statement Tuesday. “At this time, it does not appear that the Senate has explored the possibility of creating additional minority districts with 2020 census data. Appropriate steps must be taken before new district lines are approved to ensure voters African Americans and Hispanics are fairly represented in the political process.