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Issue 12: Redistricting Season in Florida Begins
A website is up and lawmakers will begin to work
Redistricting season has officially begun in Florida. This week marked the first meetings of the redistricting committees in the Florida legislature and the release of a new website: https://www.floridaredistricting.gov/
This website includes a plethora of data on past redistricting and links to the legislative committee. It also includes a ESRI-powered map-drawing tool. This is the same system the legislature will use to produce maps. Voters and lawmakers will be eligible to submit maps under the system. Right now it only includes baseline census data, but the legislature has made it clear more data will be included in short order.
This officially begins the redistricting process in Florida. It will last months. We will likely have draft maps this winter, but no final maps will be passed until early next year. In 2012, we didn’t have final maps until February and March.
Florida is also incredible diverse and its mandates and history make map drawing an incredibly tough process. We have the VRA mandates, the Fair Districts amendments, and complex demographics that make it easy for different groups to find themselves on the losing end of the process.
Of course, the big question will be… how much do Republicans try to skirt the 2010 Fair Districts Amendments? In 2012, they worked around them - but then get caught. Will they play it safer this time? Or go big and count on a new court to be friendlier?
In anticipation for this redistricting session, I have teamed up with Sean Shaw’s People over Profits to bring a history of redistricting in Florida. This history is now wrapping up - broken down over nine articles.
1845 to 1967: The Era of Malapportionment - Florida’s history of using counties instead of population for districts
1970s and 1980s: Democratic Gerrymanders - The use of multi-member districts and racial cracking to preserve Democratic rule
1990s State Legislature: DEMS vs VRA - The 1982 VRA creates new mandates for minority representation. The shrinking Democratic majority tries to preserve its rule
1990s Congress: VRA and the Courts - Florida Democratic unity collapses during redistricting. Maps go through years of court fights.
2002 Maps: Revenge of the GOP - Now in charge of the state, Republicans enact their first gerrymander
2010 Fair Districts: Reform on the Ballot - The ballot fight to pass the Fair Districts Amendments
2012 Maps: GOP vs Fair Districts - Angry with the new anti-gerrymandering provisions, the FL GOP works to circumvent the measures
2015 Congress Remap: Caught red handed - Court documents and testimony reveal Republicans drew 2012 map in secret. A court-ordered special session goes off the rails
2015 State Senate Remap: GOP Senate Civil War - A redistricting special session for state senate collapses as a Senate Presidency battle paralyzes the upper chamber
These articles total 27,000 words, dozens of maps, and a narrative that stretches across the decades. I consider them critical to understanding the maps we have today.
I will be covering redistricting extensively as the process shakes out. My article series will continue over the next many weeks. Next week will cover the political dynamics at play in Florida and how they may shape the map-drawing process. After that, I will begin a series of articles on different regions and what the maps may look like based on fair redistricting principles vs what gerrymandering could be performed.
Buckle up folks. Its about to begin.