Every 10 years after a census, political lines are redrawn nationally to reapportion congressional seats based on population. Growing states, like Florida, may pick up a congressional seat or two at a cost to other states. Such was the case in 2012. In Florida, the Legislature draws the lines for its own districts as well as those for the growing congressional delegation. While we would like to believe these lines would be drawn fairly and without regard to protecting incumbents, rewarding favorites and growing representation by the majority party, there’s reason to question the outcomes of previous efforts under both parties. Attempts to move redistricting responsibility from the hands of legislators to independent or bipartisan committees, as in seven other states, haven’t gained traction. Frustrated by what they viewed as an incestuous arrangement, citizens and voting-rights groups, including the League of Women Voters, led the effort to place a pair of constitutional amendments on the ballot for voters to consider.
These “Fair Districts” amendments were intended to force the Legislature to draw lines without regard to incumbency protection, gerrymandering and other political considerations. So what’s happened since they passed in 2010?
The House districts drawn by the Florida House were reviewed by the courts and found to comply substantially with the requirements. The Senate districts drawn by the Florida Senate were sent back with several areas of deficiency to be addressed.
The real action occurred in the challenge to the congressional districts. Florida picked up two congressional seats. Just who would be the beneficiary of this gain? Which geographic region of the state? Would it be Republican-rich Southwest Florida or Democrat-rich South Florida?