Florida legislative leaders ended their silence on their rejected congressional map Tuesday and announced they will not appeal a judge’s ruling, but will redraw the invalid map, as long as they can wait until after the 2014 election. House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz asked Judge Terry Lewis to clarify his ruling about the timing of the revisions he is ordering when he ruled that two districts violate the Fair Districts standards of the state constitution, rendering the entire map invalid. Lewis scheduled a hearing on the case for Thursday. Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Tuesday that revising the districts in the midst of a campaign season — after ballots have been printed and campaigns launched — would be impractical and disruptive. Elections officials sent overseas absentee ballots by Saturday, before lawmakers announced the decision not to challenge the maps.
“The Legislature will enact a remedial plan consistent with this Court’s judgment,” the legislators wrote in a motion filed Tuesday. “But even if a remedial plan were enacted today, it would be too late to implement the new districts at the approaching elections. The election process is in full swing.”
The two districts directly affected are held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden. Surrounding districts, especially the one held by U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, are also likely to be modified slightly.
The voter groups that brought the case, led by the League of Women Voters, contend that Florida must not run the next elections on a constitutionally flawed map and want the judge to order an immediate fix.