Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Voting officials say special election possible for redrawn map

TALLAHASSEE — Elections officials in the counties facing redrawn congressional districts concluded on Tuesday that, contrary to arguments of Republican legislators, the state could conduct special elections for a handful of districts this year — but winners would not be chosen until after Nov. 4.

By postponing the primary and general elections for as many as 10 congressional seats, Florida could again become the last state in the nation to announce its elections results. But, officials said, it may be the only option to avoid electing candidates to Congress from unconstitutional districts in North and Central Florida.

"We decided we can do a special primary, post the November election — there is a window of opportunity — but we need to decide what are those dates,'' said Jerry Holland, supervisor of elections for Duval County and head of the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections.

Elections for congressional districts that are unchanged by the map revisions — and all other races on the ballot — would continue as planned under the current election schedule.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled last month that two of Florida's 27 congressional districts violated the Fair Districts provisions of the state Constitution and invalidated districts held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. He ordered the Legislature to redraw the boundaries by Aug. 15 and said he is considering calling special elections for any districts affected by the new map for after Nov. 4.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz scheduled an eight-day special session, beginning Thursday, to redraw the maps but argued that requiring the new districts to take effect this year will be disruptive to voters and unfair to minorities.

At a court hearing last month, the Republican leaders urged Lewis to have the new districts take effect for the 2016 election and they offered to redraw them after the general election this year. But Lewis rejected that argument and gave the secretary of state until Aug. 15 to come up with a special election schedule. He will hear arguments Aug. 20 before making a final decision.

In a conference call on Tuesday, the supervisors of elections for Orange, Marion, St. John's, Clay and Duval counties — the areas that will be most affected by the changes to Brown's and Webster's districts — discussed the options for conducting special elections this year.

They ruled out the option of conducting special elections before the Nov. 4 general election, Holland told the Times/Herald. Another suggestion, to use the general election as the primary, was also ruled out because it would "create massive voter confusion," he said.

Orange County Supervisor Bill Cowles said there are many outstanding questions that elections officials can't answer, particularly if either the voting groups that brought the lawsuit or the GOP-led Legislature appeal Lewis' final ruling.

"The first question is: How long will it take to get judicially approved districts?'' he said. "Will somebody appeal or challenge the districts the Legislature approves? We can't do anything until we get final districts."

Once the districts are set, elections officials need time to revise their precinct maps and notify voters, a process that will take three to four weeks, Holland said. After that, candidates will need time to qualify for the new districts before the primary.

Lewis said in his order that he wants the Legislature to fix the map to make Brown's snake-shaped district more compact and to remove an appendage in Webster's Central Florida district intended to give Republicans an advantage.

Under most scenarios, any changes to the two districts will result in changes to surrounding districts held by incumbent U.S. Reps. Ander Crenshaw, Ted Yoho, Ron DeSantis, John Mica and Bill Posey, all Republicans.

Holland emphasized that most counties south and west of Orlando will not be affected by the changes "but it may impact as many as 10 to 15,'' he said.

Elections officials will conduct a conference call with all 67 supervisors of elections on Thursday, Holland said, to get additional feedback.

Meanwhile, the heads of the House and Senate redistricting committees on Tuesday signaled they expect a quick fix to the map and expect the session to be adjourned on Monday or Tuesday.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, also ordered their staffs to refrain from discussing the maps with legislators, outside groups or anyone other than the Legislature's legal counsel.

The warnings came after Lewis rebuked legislators in his ruling for allowing Republican political consultants to hijack the redistricting process in 2012 and create a shadow process that "made a mockery" of legislators' claims of transparency.

Galvano said in an email to members that they may not "share their work product with any outside interests," and Corcoran said that any legislator who wanted to offer a redistricting plan must be "prepared to explain in committee or on the House floor the identity of every person involved in drawing, reviewing, directing or approving the proposal."

Contact Mary Ellen Klas at meklas@MiamiHerald.com. Follow @MaryEllenKlas.

Judge Terry Lewis has ordered Florida legislators to revise their congressional redistricting map to fix  two districts he had previously ruled unconstitutional, those held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. [Times map]

Judge Terry Lewis has ordered Florida legislators to revise their congressional redistricting map to fix two districts he had previously ruled unconstitutional, those held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. [Times map]

Voting officials say special election possible for redrawn map 08/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 10:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Following Trump's trip, Merkel says Europe can't rely on U.S. anymore

    Politics

    LONDON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Donald Trump last week, saying that Europe "really must take our fate into our own hands."

    G7 leaders, from left, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, pose for a family photo at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ITAV149
  2. Seven children, 1 to 10, seriously injured when driver loses control on I-4

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Seven young passengers 1 to 10 years old were seriously injured when the driver of a Chevrolet Suburban lost control, causing the vehicle to flip and hit a fence on Interstate 4 just east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4

    Events

    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  4. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting

    Crime

    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. [Pinellas County Jail]
  5. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day of Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year

    News

    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on Saturday in the north Raymond James Stadium parking area. The temperature at the time of the photo was 92 degrees. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]