The Phoenix Flyer

Democrats propose lifting veil of secrecy on preliminary redistricting plans

By: - October 19, 2021 2:57 pm

The Florida Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021. Credit: Michael Moline/Florida Phoenix

Legislative Democrats have proposed repealing public-records exemptions that shield deliberations over the drawing of new state House and Senate and congressional district boundaries.

The legislation from Rep. Joseph Geller, representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and Sen. Annette Taddeo, of Miami-Dade, comes as the Legislature gets down to work on redrawing district lined in accordance to the most recent census.

“It is essential that this redistricting records exemption be repealed. I am concerned that even though members have been urged to retain all records, by law, Florida Statutes currently exempts redistricting communications and draft maps from public records,” Taddeo said in a written statement.

“Redistricting is the public’s business, and the public has a right to know what’s going on. This is really just a part of the transparency we’ve been promised,” Geller said.

Taddeo this week entered the Democratic primary for governor.

Keep in mind that the GOP controls both the House and Senate in the Florida Legislature.

But HB 6053 and SB 530 take up less than a page each and would simply strike the existing public-records exemption for: “A draft, and a request for a draft, of a reapportionment plan or redistricting plan and an amendment thereto. Any supporting documents associated with such plan or amendment until a bill implementing the plan, or the amendment, is filed.”

“This brings accountability to lawmakers and awareness to the public about how politicians plan on redistricting, and if map manipulation is a problem in their district,” the lawmakers said in a press release. “All too often the task of redistricting leads to partisan gerrymandering, which too often favors one party and disadvantages communities of color.”

Earlier this month, the Florida Phoenix wrote that Florida is behind other states in proposing new voting maps.

Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon have finished drawing their new maps, and at least 13 more states have published proposed maps. Maps for OhioTexas, and a handful of other states are complete enough to have drawn lawsuits challenging their allegedly partisan motives.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.