State lawmakers from the Black Caucus spoke out against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ redistricting plan at a press conference on April 18, 2022. Credit: State Sen. Shevrin Jones’ Facebook page.
A day before the Florida Legislature convenes for its special session, Black lawmakers on Monday pushed back against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal for redrawing the state’s congressional redistricting map, calling the map by the governor an overall “attack” on Black voters.
During the press conference in Miami, state Sen. Shevrin Jones said the Legislature during the 2022 session did its “constitutional duty” by producing a congressional map that is fair.
“We passed unanimously maps that were following the law based on the Fair District Act that Floridians voted overwhelmingly for because they did not want maps gerrymandered,” said Jones, a Democrat representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“The governor has gone and done an unprecedented thing that no governor has done before. And he has now taken control of the congressional map.”
Jones added that lawmakers from the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and the Black community across Florida “will not allow the governor to hijack this process on our maps.”
DeSantis, a Republican hoping for reelection in 2022, vetoed the Legislature’s redistricting plan and called for a special session on the issue. He then produced his own congressional map that Republicans in the Legislature have signaled their approval for.
His plan would leave two performing-Black districts, compared to four under the Legislature’s map, by scrapping one in North Florida and taking Black voters away from a second district in Central Florida. There would be four Hispanic districts.
State Rep. Dotie Joseph had a message for DeSantis during the press event: “We have a governor who want to take us backwards.”
“We are not going back. My message to the governor is let my people vote,” said Joseph, a Democrat representing part of Miami-Dade County.
Joseph said the Legislature even gave DeSantis a backup map during the session, but DeSantis still rejected it. She said Gov. DeSantis “needs to stay in his lane” by allowing the Legislature to construct the congressional map.
“This is an attack on the voting rights laws both at the federal level and the state level,” she said. “This is a partisan full-frontal attack on our voting rights.”
State Rep. Felicia Robinson argued that the governor’s veto of the congressional map is an attempt to “minimize voting districts of color.” She added that her office had received “thousands of emails” by constituents expressing their anger with the governor’s plan on redistricting.
“In the past election, our already marginalized communities exercised their right to vote in mass numbers. And this veto is just an example of our governor not liking them coming out in mass numbers,” said Robinson, a Democrat representing parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“What this really says is that we know our votes do matter. So, if they can make it harder for you to get out to your precinct or split districts, we know that this is their way of trying to dilute our overall voice and our vote.”
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