Sorry, Legislature! Congressional Redistricting Might Not Be an Easy Fix

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: August 8, 2014 3:55 AM
Florida Legislature
After almost 14 years since the 2000 presidential election, Florida politics are still the stuff of late night TV fodder. Jokes about hanging chads and confused ballots remain par for the course and, by striking down the congressional districts, Judge Terry Lewis is setting up more material for comedians.

Responding to Lewis cracking the whip and setting up a two-week deadline to draw new districts, on Thursday the Florida Legislature started its special session to tackle redistricting. Barred by law from fundraising during session, legislators want to get out of Tallahassee as quickly as possible, especially those senators and representatives who face primaries in less than three weeks. They want to make as few changes to the districts as possible and have those take effect in 2016.

But that might not be enough for Lewis and the League of Women Voters. Lewis waited until after absentee and oversea ballots had been sent out for the Aug. 26 primary to issue his demand for a special session. The League of Women Voters wants the districts changed as quickly as possible, never mind the votes already cast and the absurdity of having some Floridians voting for candidates in the August primary and the November general election while having other candidates on the ballot in the December special election.

County election boards are forced to get ready for a special election in December. A few elections supervisors have mentioned Dec. 6 as the possible date for a special election, extending campaign season by another month.

Floridians won’t get a break if that’s the case. By the middle of October, many voters will be fed up with attack ads taking over their television and radio. Their mailboxes will be cluttered with campaign flyers. Extend that another month, even as Floridians turn their attention away from politics and back to Thanksgiving, football, holiday shopping, family trips, Christmas and Hanukkah. Voters will tune out of politics, especially those who have already voted at least once and possibly twice for candidates who no longer represent them.

And even then it might not be over. Lewis could draw up his own map, but if he decides to accept the slight changes made by the Legislature, the League of Women Voters could continue their efforts and appeal the new map. If Lewis decides a special election doesn’t need to take place and the new districts can take effect in 2016, the League could also appeal that decision.

Then there is the Corrine Brown factor. Brown, whose district was ruled by Lewis to be unconstitutional, had made noises that she will appeal if her seat is altered and she could bring the federal courts into the matter.

Legislators want to make redistricting as easy as possible. But this thing has the potential to get messy and confusing, leading to more jokes about voting in Florida.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (8)

11:50AM AUG 8TH 2014
You can find the proposals here on the flsenate page. I'd post a link but I'm not allowed.
I'm in District 10 and I favor theH000C9057 plan. It effects me directly. This seems like there are people who do not want others to be accurate represented. In a republic one of the goals should always be to have the largest number of people possible represented as accurately as possible. The S014C9040 plan does just the opposite for my district.
The Swampfox
9:53AM AUG 8TH 2014
Get over it Frank and vote like a real man, any redistricting should be done after the primary and after the general election. Anything short of that will be a total disaster for the state making the hanging chad a Carter vs. Obama failure in the presidency joke of the century. Look at the gerrymandering of districts in NY where you liberals should move if you like that type of government. You could rub elbows with Andrew and Mario Cuomo, Sheldon Silvers and all the corrupt democrats running that state. Judge Lewis should strike down any redistricting until after the election to level the playing field making whatever redistricting fair. Isn't that what you want Barbara & Frank????
11:00PM AUG 8TH 2014
What I want is the state constitution to be followed . . . unfortunately, and not for the first time (think Bush and classroom size), GOP leaders seem to always feel that it's just an inconvenient obstacle to have to try and get around, in order to defeat the people's will . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
9:44AM AUG 8TH 2014
Well Ms. Brown will not be able to have it in her favor either since the redistricting says neither side can have a majority! And those responding to this article act as if the democrats never did any redistricting in their favor. Yeah, right. That is why my county is split across the state to include democrats from Dade county. That is what is not right!

As for this being a mostly democratic state - it is the big cities that hold the democrats - not the counties. The state is red except a few blue counties.

I found it funny that the main witness testimonial was sealed (the person making the testimony was/is an activist) and when I read the Judge's ruling...boy did he come off as an activist. I believe we should be able to vet Judges better. They do not respond to surveys letting us know where they stand on issues and since they are being voted in - we have the right to know.
1:03PM AUG 8TH 2014
Funny how impartiallity before the law is always offensive to conservatives.
Entitlement much.
The legislature is flipping off Judge Lewis.
Again , what a shame there are not severe civil fines and criminal sanctions available against the Florida Republican Party and Weatherford, Gaetz and all of the Republican consultants who have defrauded the citizens of Florida and really stolen elections.
Barbara Gelfond
8:42AM AUG 8TH 2014
Do it anyway!
8:39AM AUG 8TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right -->"this thing has the potential to get messy and confusing, leading to more jokes about voting in Florida" . . . . and WHO exactly deserves all the credit (blame) for such a situation . . . . . oh, that's right . . . . the partisan GOP leadership who secretly conspired to bring about illegally drawn legislative districts in a blatant attempt to ensure the election of a Republican majority in a state where they constitute the minority party . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Barbara Gelfond
8:44AM AUG 8TH 2014
Right on, Frank!

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