Drawing Florida’s congressional and legislative boundaries

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 4:12 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The once-a-decade redrawing of the state’s congressional and legislative boundaries is heating up in the state Capitol. Monday, House staff released the chamber’s first drafts, while a Senate committee fine-tuned that chamber’s proposals. At least one of the House maps is raising questions of fairness.

Ten years ago, new standards approved by voters aimed at making the process of drawing new political boundaries less political were in place for the first time.

Matt Isbell is an independent data analyst and says those standards weren’t always followed.

“They were secretly drawing stuff behind the scenes,” Isbell said.

Fast forward to Monday. Adding fuel to the debate is that Florida gets one additional member of congress.

“You are recognized for a walk-through of the staff prepared plans,” Senate Congressional Redistricting Chair Jennifer Bradley said.

So far all of the maps have been drawn by staff with no public input.

“They are telling us that they’ve done the work, but they are not sharing the analysis,” Florida League of Women Voters President Cecelia Scoon said.

That worries the League of Women Voters, which originally passed the Fair Districts Amendments.

“So if you want to understand what they’ve done, we have to follow their pathway, and they are just expecting us to trust them, and that’s not how government should work,” Scoon told us.

After a Monday meeting, Democrat Linda Stewart says unlike a decade ago, politicians don’t appear to be trying to pick their voters instead of the other way around.

“What I’ve seen is not political,” Stewart said.

When asked what this means for the future, Stewart told us “I think it means we won’t have a lawsuit.”

Two congressional maps dropped by the House on Monday are raising eyebrows.

Former President Donald Trump won 16 of the state’s 27 congressional districts in 2020. Isbell says Trump would have won 17 districts under the first House released map, and more under the second.

“This second House Congressional plan has Trump at 18 districts and Biden ten, so that’s much more aggressive than the other plans,” Isbell said.

The House and Senate will each redraw their own districts, but in the end, both must agree on the new congressional map.

After lawsuits following the 2012 redistricting, courts redrew both the Senate and Congressional maps, which took several years of litigation.