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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Republicans must hit political reset button with redistricting process that begins Monday



Florida legislators begin three months of public hearings Monday to hear what voters have to say about their once-a-decade task of realigning the state’s political maps to reflect shifts in population and growth.

Known as reapportionment of the population, and redistricting of legislative and congressional seats, it is an exercise like no other in state government.

Redistricting is raw politics to the core — often fostering unusual alliances of ideologically opposite legislators whose goal is to preserve their own political careers and broaden their party’s power.

It will be driven by technology, with new software and databases that allow lawmakers to determine the voting patterns of every block and enable public inspection of every map.

It will inevitably erupt into a legal battle, as new redistricting rules imposed by nearly 63 percent of voters in the 2010 election attempt to ban the protection of incumbents and shield minority voting rights but leave more potential trip wires than ever before.

And it will shape Florida history. While a fraction of voters may turn out for a general election and dictate state politics for two to four years, redistricting forces politicians to hit the reset button and that can leave a political imprint for decades.

(full story here)

[Last modified: Sunday, June 19, 2011 2:52pm]


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