The Florida Legislature’s legal team has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to begin the process of reviewing its legislative maps for compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, even before the Florida Supreme Court signs off on a final product. In a March 30 letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, lawyers for the House, Senate and attorney general asked the federal government to expedite its a pre-clearance of the maps so that candidates will know the district boundaries when they are required to qualify during the week the June 4. Under the Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, Florida must submit its legislative and congressional maps for approval, or pre-clearance, because five counties – Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe – have a history of discrimination against racial or language minorities. Download Preclearance_Senate
The Legislature passed the map on March 27 and Attorney GeneralPam Bondi has until April 11 to ask the state’s high court to conduct its required review. The court rejected the first Senate map and will have 30 days after Bondi sends it the plan a second time to decide if the map addresses the court’s concerns. As of Monday, Bondi had not asked the Florida court to review the maps, raising the question of whether federal officials will pay attention to them without the state court finishing its job.
The clock is ticking. Bondi has until April 11 to submit the redrawn Senate map back to the court. Once complete, the Department of Justice has 60 days to do its pre-clearance review. And candidates have until the week of June 4 to decide which of the redrawn districts they will choose. The legislature assumes the Florida Supreme Court is going to approve its plan, telling the feds, their review “merely provides up-or-down approval of the redistricting plan.”