A Florida circuit judge will decide by the end of this month whether Republican legislators violated a state constitutional amendment in 2012 when they drew district maps for seats in the Legislature and Congress. But the recently concluded trial already has demonstrated that lawmakers at minimum violated the public’s trust with their secretive methods. In 2010 voters approved the “Fair Districts” amendments, which stipulated that when state lawmakers meet every 10 years to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries, they could no longer favor incumbents or members of a political party (a process known as “gerrymandering,” which both parties have engaged in when they held the majority).
In 2011, Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Will Weatherford, at the time the chairmen of the House and Senate redistricting committees, held public hearings around the state to solicit input on what people wanted the new maps to look like. They also set up a website in which Floridians could submit their own versions.
It was part of what Gaetz promised would be “the most open, transparent, interactive process of public engagement” around redistricting “anywhere in America.”
And then, after gathering all that outside opinion, legislators met behind closed doors and produced maps that looked remarkably similar to those prior to the Fair Districts reforms. The GOP maintained a majority of Republican-leaning districts in the Legislature and Congress, despite the fact that Democrats have a voter registration advantage in the state.
Full Article: Redistricting was politics as usual | News-JournalOnline.com.