The Phoenix Flyer

League leader unhappy with access to detailed data driving reapportionment

By: - November 29, 2021 7:22 pm

Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, testified before the Senate Select Subcommittee on Reapportionment on Nov. 29, 2021. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

The president of the League of Women Voters of Florida has called upon the state Senate to release precinct-level data pertaining to race and voting behavior to allow independent analysis of congressional and legislative reapportionment plans now under development.

President Cecile Scoon argued during a meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Legislative Reapportionment on Monday afternoon that the Senate has acquired those data under a contract with Florida State University, but hasn’t released the more granular details to the public.

The subcommittee drawing new congressional maps met earlier in the day.

Small adjustments committee staff members made to their latest legislative maps to ensure two majority-minority districts in Broward and Miami-Dade counties affected an additional two counties in the area, Scoon noted.

“In the same manner, we need to be able to detect what’s going on if we tinker with some of the other benchmark areas and some of the other new growth areas. In order for us to do that, we believe that we need the precinct-level information so we can get the voting-age population of the Black community and the Hispanic community, other language and racial minorities,” she told the committee.

Staff director Jay Ferrin insisted the Legislature’s reapportionment portal contains links to precinct-level data held by the Florida Division of Elections. As recently as Nov. 16, Ferrin said the committee was restricting its analysis to district-level data, according to a report by the Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times state capital bureau.

The committee is conducting functional analyses of voting behavior to assess which districts are likely to allow racial and language minorities a fair shot at electing candidates of their choosing — a major factor the courts will consider when reviewing the new districts. Another is the degree to which the new maps deliver any partisan political advantages.

The process relies on population data collected during the 2020 Census.

Scoon argued it’s not possible to check the committee’s numbers absent the raw data about behavior by high- as well as by low-propensity voters.

Following the hearing, Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta attempted to reassure Scoon that the data she seeks are available.

“It’s built in, but we have to accept your analysis. What we’re trying to do is analyze it for ourselves,” Scoon said.

“We don’t want to rely only on your analysis. We want to look at it, and then we want to, like, go to the raw data on the precinct level and do our own [analysis],” she said.

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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. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

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