FL Senate unveils draft maps proposing new districts for Congress, Legislature

By: - November 10, 2021 7:29 pm

One of four proposed congressional maps drafted by Senate staff. Source: FloridaRedistricting.gov

First drafts of redrawn voting districts were unveiled Wednesday afternoon by the Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment, setting in motion a whirlwind of analysis, scrutiny, and debate that will shape Florida’s legislative and congressional races for a decade to come.

The eight maps, proposing new boundaries for Senate and congressional electoral districts, can be viewed here.

Analysts with the FairDistricts Coalition and the League of Women Voters of Florida — voting-rights organizations that played pivotal roles in redistricting 10 years ago — were analyzing the maps into the evening Wednesday, representatives told the Phoenix.

Those and other groups sued the Florida Legislature over the partisan maps it adopted 10 years ago. The Florida Supreme Court agreed that two of the three legislatively approved maps were gerrymandered to favor Republicans and threw them out, replacing them with maps proposed by the voting-rights organizations.

No doubt, many state and national organizations and individuals also were poring over the maps late Wednesday, looking for indications the maps appear to be the least partisan, the most favorable to incumbents, the most favorable to challengers, the most representative of Florida’s demographic diversity, the most compliant with federal voting laws, and so on.

Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orange County Democrat on the Senate reapportionment committee, said she is glad to have maps to review, with only two full business days left before the committee is expected to dive into its work next week.

“I’m pleased the maps have been published and I look forward to reviewing over the next few days and with committee members and staff at next week’s meeting,” Stewart said.

The House Redistricting Committee has not submitted proposed maps yet. Democrats on the panel continue urge House leaders to gather public testimony. The Senate has ruled out such a process, although members may solicit testimony individually.

“I’m glad to finally see some maps. Hopefully, the House follows suit soon and we can get to work. It’ll be interesting to see how these maps hold up to scrutiny, especially in how they perform under the VRA [Voting Rights Act],” said Rep. Kelly Skidmore, of Palm Beach County, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House’s subcommittee on congressional redistricting.

The legislators’ job is to redraw lawful voting-district maps for 2022 and beyond that reflect population growth in Florida, as reported by the 2020 Census. There are 40 seats in the Florida Senate, 120 in the Florida House of Representatives, and 28 seats in Congress — an increase of one to reflect population growth.

The public portal to allow voters to participate in the drawing of their voting districts is at www.FloridaRedistricting.gov.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]