Leon County, Florida is currently in the middle of going through its Charter Review process. The county, home to Florida’s capital, became a charter county in 2002, and every eight years the county commission appoints individuals to the ‘Charter Review Board’ to consider changes that can be put forward to the voters. It has come to my attention, however, that the board is debating two proposals, which, if passed, would severely hamper minority voters in the county.
In 2015, Florida underwent mid-decade redistricting for its state senate lines, around the same time it was forced to redraw its congressional boundaries. Unlike the congressional case, where the state supreme court ordered a redraw, the legislature avoided a verdict and agreed to redraw their lines after evidence came to light that the legislature had worked to circumvent the Fair Districts Amendments passed in 2010. After a special session that resulted in no final map, the court picked a plan chosen by the plaintiffs that sued over the lines. The case was closed and Florida conducted its elections with new state senate lines.
In 2015, Florida was ordered to undergo a round of mid-decade redistricting after the Florida Supreme Court found the 2012 Congressional Plan passed by the GOP-controlled Florida legislature to be unconstitutional. When the legislature failed to agree on a map, a judge selected a plan drawn by the coalition plaintiffs – who had originally filed suit over the map. This year was the first time an election was held under this new map.
Anyone who followed my Florida redistricting coverage in 2015 knows I was strongly against a senate district that linked Tampa and St Petersburg by crossing the Tampa Bay. The argument was that only by linking the African-Americans of Tampa and downtown St Peterburg could a proper African-American access seat be created. The flaw in this argument was that the legislature relied on outdated data and ignored recent elections that had taken place after large African-American registration increases in Tampa. At the end of the day, a district crossing the Tampa Bay was adopted. This set off a major primary for the open seat.
Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes shouldn’t have had any troubles getting re-elected in 2016. The Congressman has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2001 and has faced little electoral trouble in his 15 year congressional career. Forbes initially sat in the 4th congressional district, which following the 2012 round of redistricting, was a swing seat that voted for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012.
Jefferson County, Florida, a small Democratic-leaning county just to the east of Tallahassee, is currently being sued by the ACLU over its 5 single-member commission districts, which are used for both County Commission and School Board elections. The suing parties say that the districts use prison gerrymandering to inflate the minority population of one district specifically, District 3. The issue stems from Jefferson County Correctional Institution, a jail with over 1,100 inmates. Prison populations are counted by the census for the location they are incarcerated in, not where they initially lived.
Today the legislature used a random number system to renumber the map selected by Judge Reynolds a few days ago. More details on the map and who may run where can be found in that link.
Judge Reynolds’ decision came out today, another chapter in the Florida Senate redistricting saga. You can my past articles on the Senate redistricting saga here, here, here, here, and here, Reynolds had to pick a final Senate map to for the Florida Supreme Court to sign off on and he selected a map proposed by the coalition plaintiffs, map CPS4A.
‘Twas the night before trial, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, save the click of my mouse;
The maps were all mounted by the desk with care,
In hopes that an end of the redistricting saga would soon be there;
The analysts were nestled all snug in their beds,