Thursday, April 26, 2018
Politics

Romano: Judge should end election rigging with new district maps

So the current maps are a scam. The state Senate has all but admitted that.

And nobody seems to trust legislators, consultants, activists or even fate when it comes to drawing new Senate districts for future elections.

Every possible solution comes wrapped in accusation, and every participant is presumed to have an ulterior motive.

So what's a judge to do?

Err on the side of chaos.

That's not a joke. The worst thing Circuit Judge George Reynolds can do when the redistricting trial begins this month is assume the problem can be fixed with tweaks.

The truth is, redistricting is institutional fraud. It is a way for politicians to rig elections in advance, and essentially turn your vote into a worthless ceremony.

You might think that sounds overwrought and hyperbolic, but the evidence says otherwise. And you need only look at a decade's worth of elections to recognize that.

When maps were redrawn by the GOP for the 2002 election, Republicans emerged with a 26-14 advantage in the Senate and an 81-39 advantage in the House.

On the surface, there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe the GOP had better candidates. Better ideas. Better fundraisers.

It's true Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the state in 2002 — and still do today — but it's not inconceivable that at one snapshot in time voters were feeling more conservative than their party affiliation might suggest.

What is much, much harder to explain is how, more than a decade later, the results are exactly the same.

Voter dissatisfaction is rampant. Outside candidates are all the rage. No-party and third-party-affiliated voters are making a dent at the ballot box. Polls say residents are utterly dissatisfied with the job our lawmakers are doing in Tallahassee.

And yet the GOP still has a 26-14 lead in the Senate and an 81-39 lead in the House.

How is that possible?

Because the vast majority of districts are purposefully drawn to ensure a particular party will win no matter who the candidate is.

When it comes to statewide races, Florida voters are virtually split between Democrats and Republicans. Democrat Barack Obama carried Florida by narrow margins in 2008 and 2012, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott squeaked out victories in 2010 and 2014.

So when you eliminate voting districts, Florida is as moderate as it gets. And yet when voters are confined to the Legislature's imaginary voting lines, Florida becomes one of the most Republican-leaning states in America.

Give or take a few special elections, there were 80 Senate seats up for grabs from 2004 to 2010. Only four times did a seat switch from one party to the other. And only five times was an election decided by 5 percentage points or less. In other words, most of those elections were decided long before any of us picked up a ballot.

Admittedly, there is no easy solution to this problem. Drastically changing district maps could create a greater balance between parties, but it might also have an adverse effect on African-American and Hispanic-leaning districts.

So, no, the perfect answer may not exist. But this point cannot be denied:

There are nearly 12 million registered voters in Florida, and yet a handful of politicians in Tallahassee are controlling state elections.

Comments
Mike Pompeo narrowly confirmed to be secretary of state

Mike Pompeo narrowly confirmed to be secretary of state

WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly confirmed Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state on Thursday, clearing the path for him to take over as the top U.S. diplomat just as President Donald Trump faces high-risk moments on Iran and North Korea.Pompeo, the ou...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Trump says Cohen represented him in

Trump says Cohen represented him in "Stormy Daniels deal"

President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday for the first time that his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen represented him in efforts to silence Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who has alleged a sexual encounter with Trump more than a de...
Updated: 12 hours ago
HUD Secretary proposes raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

HUD Secretary proposes raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.Ca...
Published: 04/26/18
VA nominee considers withdrawing as new allegations emerge of drinking, wrecking government vehicle

VA nominee considers withdrawing as new allegations emerge of drinking, wrecking government vehicle

WASHINGTON — White House physician Ronny Jackson has grown frustrated with the nomination process to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs and has told colleagues he may remove his name from consideration, two White House officials with knowledge o...
Published: 04/25/18
Sessions defends Trump pardons of Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby

Sessions defends Trump pardons of Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s right to pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Bush administration official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Both pardons were issued by Trump and bypassed the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Seniors support ‘grandchildren’ with gun-control rally in Sun City Center

Seniors support ‘grandchildren’ with gun-control rally in Sun City Center

SUN CITY CENTER — Millions of women marched on Washington. Thousands of teenagers rallied in Tallahassee and Tampa Bay.And in Sun City Center, nearly 150 seniors held a demonstration for gun control on April 21, offering a simple but poignant message...
Published: 04/25/18

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real estate deals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)ATLANTA — On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson. "I know you have done a good job," Hannity said. "You are a good man."Carson’s presence gav...
Published: 04/23/18
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Published: 04/23/18
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18