Two voting-rights organizations that led the legal battle against congressional districts later found to be unconstitutional called Monday for a new map to be drawn in public — a demand swiftly rejected by legislative leaders. The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida released a letter to Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, taking issue with the top lawmakers’ announcement that legislative staff and lawyers would be secluded as they draw a map intended to comply with a Florida Supreme Court decision rejecting current districts. That map will serve as a “base” for lawmakers as they consider amendments and give ultimate approval to a congressional redistricting plan during a special legislative session that starts next Monday.
In a 5-2 decision last month, the Supreme Court struck down eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts for violating one of the two anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” amendments adopted by voters in 2010.
But the League of Women Voters and Common Cause said keeping map-drawing sessions private “undermines the Legislature’s assurances of an open and transparent remedial process” and could violate the Supreme Court’s call for the redistricting process to take place in public. The court majority found fault with key lawmakers making some decisions about redistricting plans outside of the public eye.
“We believe that the ‘base map’ should be discussed and drawn in public, as that map will play a central role in the legislative process of drawing the congressional redistricting plan,” wrote League President Pamela Goodman and Peter Butzin, chairman of Common Cause Florida. “We hope and expect that the Legislature will provide a mechanism for the public to view the drawing of the ‘base map’ and any associated discussions.”
Full Article: Organizations want public redistricting.