Terry Lewis — the circuit judge, not the former interim manager of Sarasota city and county governments — faces a dilemma. Lewis recently ruled from Tallahassee that the state Legislature violated terms of a “fair districts” amendment to Florida’s constitution. Among other provisions, the amendment — approved in 2010 by 63 percent of voters statewide — requires the Legislature to create reasonably shaped congressional districts without favoring incumbents or political parties. Following a 12-day trial, Lewis found that interference by Republican operatives both manipulated and influenced the creation of new districts statewide. Legislative leaders declined to appeal. During a hearing Thursday, Lewis must either:
A. Allow this year’s congressional elections to continue in Florida, even though he found that the creation of two of the districts was unconstitutional.
B. Require the Legislature to redraw the Fifth and Tenth districts.
“B” would not be all that big a deal — the Legislature drew 27 congressional districts, 40 state Senate districts and 120 for the House of Representatives in 2012 — if not for one nagging fact. The elections are under way.
Candidates for all congressional seats had to declare and qualify by May 2. (State and local candidates had until June 20 to qualify.)
Absentee ballots were mailed July 11 to members of the military and Floridians living overseas. On Tuesday, some 60,000 absentee ballots will be mailed to voters in Manatee and Sarasota counties alone; hundreds of thousands will go out statewide.
Full Article: Tryon: Fixing Florida’s redistricting | HeraldTribune.com.