The Fair Districts coalition broke its silence on the legislature's nearly completed redistricting maps late Thursday and delivered a 12-page letter to lawmakers lambasting their proposals for manipulating the political boundaries for partisan and incumbent advantage, in violation of the state Constitution.
"It appears that all maps under consideration were drawn with an intent to gain partisan advantage and/or to protect incumbents," the group wrote in its letter to House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford.
In short, the group which helped bring new state's redistricting standards to the state Constitution, accuses lawmakers of not only strategically protecting incumbents with the drawing of districts but doing it to strengthen weak districts, pick favorites in competitive areas, pack minority voters into districts and strategically secure a Republican majority for the next decade.
Each of those tactics is implicitly prohibited in the constitution under the new Fair District amendments 5 and 6, the group claims. As an alternative, the coalition has offered maps for Congress, the Senate and the House districts.
"...we were able to nest our House Districts within Senate Districts so that not a single House seat breaks a single Senate line. This "nesting" gives voters the advantage of having a more efficient and logical form of representation with a dedicated delegation that can work together to serve the needs of Florida's communities,'' the letter states. "In our maps, there is a ratio of three House districts to every Senate district."
Weatherford will offer the House and congressional maps when the committee meets this morning. He had asked the group to provide the committee with their methodology for drawing their proposed House, Senate and congressional maps. Weatherford but they are expected to be soundly defeated.
The House is expected to vote out its maps next week, followed by a vote of approval by the Senate. The attorney general will then send the legislative maps to the Florida Supreme Court for the required 30-day review and the congressional map will go to the governor for his signature.
The coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters, the National Council of La Raza and Common Cause of Florida had offered little detail about their objections to the redistricting plans, except that they believed they were not compliant with the new redistricting standards. Its letter reads like a summary of its legal argument in the court proceeding. Download Ltr to Weatherford1-26-12
Posted by Mary Ellen Klas at 7:19:11 am on January 27, 2012