The Phoenix Flyer

FL Senate’s draft voting maps faring well in public opinion so far

By: - November 16, 2021 5:39 pm

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Early reviews of the Florida Senate’s eight proposed maps redrawing state Senate and congressional voting districts are favorable, drawing a stark contrast between this redistricting cycle and the one 10 years ago.

“These maps are impressive,” said Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a central-west Florida Republican who chairs the Senate subcommittee on congressional reapportionment. We have come extraordinarily far in what has been an extremely condensed amount of time. I believe we are on the right track for success.”

Even Democrat-backed All On The Line gave the preliminary maps a high-five.

“The draft state senate and congressional maps [released Nov. 10] are a good starting point on the path to fair maps,” said Katie Vicsik, the organization’s state director for Florida.

“All On The Line is cautiously optimistic that Florida legislators might actually listen to voters and build upon the successful implementation of the Fair Districts Amendments. [The] drafts show that maps can be drawn to accommodate Florida’s population shifts without completely upending existing representation.”

Florida’s Fair Districts constitutional amendments were adopted by voters in 2010. Redrawn voting districts promoted and adopted by the Republican-controlled Legislature failed to comply with the amendments and were thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court, which deemed them to be gerrymandered in favor of Republican candidates.

The court rejected two of the three legislatively approved maps and imposed its own for the remainder of the decade, based on maps proposed by the FairDistricts Coalition.

That coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause, has not yet announced its opinion of the proposed new maps.

Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orange County Democrat, praised the subcommittee’s staff for drafting maps that appear to comply with federal voting-rights requirements and just make sense.

“I’m very happy with the product,” Stewart said, adding that she looks forward to hearing public responses to the draft maps.

Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell of Palm Beach County also applauded the staff for its work and said she will host online public hearings in the Treasure Coast region to gauge public sentiment.

“I look forward to hearing what our constituents think of this,” Harrell said, urging other senators to do hold public hearings.

Unlike a decade ago, the Senate this cycle will not hold a series of public hearings around the state to gather voters’ opinions on the redrawing of their voting districts.

While the Senate has proposed four maps for new state Senate districts and four new congressional districts – including a new, 28th one – the House of Representatives has not yet released draft maps.

Beyond the Capitol, more than three dozen other maps have been submitted for consideration through www.FloridaRedistricting.gov. Those include five maps filed Tuesday by Nick Warren, an attorney, specifically addressing congressional districts in four regions of the state and proposing one map for state Senate districts, and seven maps submitted from other states: Massachusetts, Texas and California.

The Florida Legislature must adopt new House, Senate and congressional voting boundaries in its regular session, beginning Jan. 11, to reflect population increases documented in the 2020 Census.

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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]

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