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Amendment 5 and 6

Amendment 5 and 6: Changes in Redistricting Process
Are fairness standards needed for redistricting of legislative and congressional districts?

2010 Census

Redistricting is the act of redividing the state into new election districts. By law, it happens every 10 years. FairDistrictsFlorida.org, the organization behind Amendments 5 & 6, is working to establish constitutionally mandated fairness standards for the way Florida draws legislative and congressional district lines.

According to FairDistrictsFlorida.org, these amendments would establish easily understandable, non-partisan standards in creating legislative and congressional district boundaries. While protecting minority voting rights, the standards would prohibit drawing district lines to favor or disfavor any incumbent or political party. Districts would have to be compact and utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.

Critics, led by leaders of the Florida Legislature, say the amendments’ goals, though laudable, are impossible to meet and would be impossible to defend in court. Further, they say, the amendments as proposed would prevent legislators from drawing districts that balance the playing field for minorities.

What the amendment attempts to eliminate is the drawing of boundaries to favor a political party. The practice sometimes results in strange boundaries. For example, Fort Lauderdale, with a population of 180,000, is cut into four congressional districts that literally put people living across the street from each other in different districts.

Though Florida’s registered Democratic voters slightly outnumber Republicans, the congressional delegation is two-thirds Republican and the Legislature is overwhelmingly controlled by the Republican Party, a phenomenon critics say is partly a result of politicians drawing district boundaries to favor their party.

At A Glance
Sponsor/Originator: FairDistrictsFlorida.org

Title on Ballot: Standards for Legislature to follow in legislative redistricting

Official Summary: Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

What it would do: Amendment 5 would require that legislative districts not be drawn to favor one political party over another or deny minorities equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

Arguments for: Incumbents, both Democrat and Republican, have traditionally drawn district boundaries to give themselves political advantage. Redistricting should not favor any incumbent or party.

Arguments against: The amendment might reduce minority representation. Abiding by the amendment would be difficult, and redistricting under its strictures could lead to a flurry of lawsuits.


Sponsor/Originator: FairDistrictsFlorida.org

Title on Ballot: Standards for Legislature to follow in congressional redistricting

Official Summary: Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact and as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

What it would do: Amendment 6 would require that congressional districts not be drawn to favor one political party over another or deny minorities equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

Arguments for: Incumbents, both Democrat and Republican, have traditionally drawn district boundaries to give themselves political advantage. Redistricting should not favor any incumbent or party.

Arguments against: The amendment might reduce minority representation. Abiding by the amendment would be difficult, and redistricting under its strictures could lead to a flurry of lawsuits.