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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How prisoners give Panhandle voters more more say than other Floridians



Fred Grimm highlights Florida's dubious policy of counting prisoners as part of local populationa for redistricting purposes. Two Panhandle districts - District 5 represented by Marti Coley and 7 represented by Halsey Beshears - stand out. Their large prison population means their state House members represent significantly fewer voters than everywhere else in the state.

...Best of all they don’t go around town grumbling that folks should vote for that other candidate. They can’t. They can’t vote. They’re state prisoners.

They’re the great gift urban counties ship up to state representatives in Florida’s rural prison belt, whose districts encompass Sumpter or Bradford or Baker or Hardee or Calhoun and other counties where incarceration is a major local industry and inmates represent a sizeable chunk of the local population.

Come time to redistrict, every 10 years, those inmates — most of them big city homies — are counted along with the local population, making prisoners a valuable political commodity and consigning elected officials, particularly state reps, political power out of whack with their actual voting constituency...

[Last modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 9:29am]


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