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Fair Districts Florida

Fair Districts Florida

Every ten years the United States conducts a census to determine the population of our nation. Following the count, the Florida Legislature redraws the boundaries of Congressional districts as well as the districts of the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. Each of these districts is to be roughly equal in population. Problems have arisen because members of the Florida Legislature draw the new boundaries. This has resulted in control by the majority party with district lines drawn to protect incumbents. In the last six years only 3 incumbents have been defeated in state legislative elections. Such gerrymandering (drawing lines to favor a political party or incumbent) has resulted in some Florida districts with unique shapes. For example, the Senator representing District 27 lives in Palm Beach, however his district spans 115 miles across the state to Fort Myers and covers parts of 5 counties. Several other districts have similar bizarre configurations.

Fair Districts Florida is a non-partisan organization that is working to reform the way the legislature draws Congressional and legislative boundaries and the League of Women Voters is part of this effort. The group collected 1,650,000 petitions to place two amendments on the ballot in the upcoming statewide election. Following approval by the Florida Supreme Court, Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 will appear on the November 4, 2010 ballot. Amendments 5 and 6 provide:

  • legislative districts may not be drawn to favor a political party or candidate;
  • legislative districts may not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the opportunity to elect representatives;
  • legislative districts must be contiguous;
  • legislative districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

Both of the proposals contain the same requirements. Amendment 5 is directed to state legislative districts, while Amendment 6 covers the Congressional districts.



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