Sunday, January 10, 2016

Another Update on Florida Gerrymandering January 2016

I've been keeping up with the redistricting issues here in the Sunshine State, and while the map for Congressional districts had been settled awhile back the Florida Senate redistricting was still up for grabs.

(I'm thinking the redistricting for the Florida House is harder to argue against due to how many districts exist, about 120 right? I haven't seen any court cases involving it, if there is please let me know)

The previous noise was how the state legislature couldn't handle redrawing its own map because it meant newer districts forced overlaps for sitting state senators. And nobody - even a few Democrats from what I heard - wanted to give up their safe seats.

Before New Year's Eve in 2015, the court approved the map proposed by the voting rights groups that challenged the 2012 map - as the Lege's proposal had conflict issues - which is supposed to reflect a more compact population-based sorting. There's no image file for me to include so you're going to need to click that link to view the PDF file instead.

Seeing that map, I'm conflicted. There are still unusual shapes in that plan, and if you look closely you'll see South St. Petersburg splits across the bay to East Tampa to form District 19, which is something I don't think the fair districts are supposed to allow. It looks like they ignored to make the districts to conform to county lines as best as possible, with some counties like Pasco and Polk and Orange carved out between different Districts unable to form their own. They couldn't make one district for all of Pinellas, or Pasco, or Orange?

I know there's a need to create minority-majority districts, but the map-makers should be smart enough to figure out how to reach those numbers without splitting counties and cities apart like that.

Maybe it's me being too obsessive-compulsive.

Maybe it's the need to add a few more senate seats for the growing population this state's had over the decades. The modern state constitution was passed in 1968, back when the population (just above 6 million) wasn't anywhere near 18 million people: while 120 House seats seem proper (we can live with that number going up to maybe 160, but 200 seems too many), 40 Senate seats does not (bumping it to an even 50 might help).

In the meanwhile, gotta live with the maps we get. With this resolved the county Elections offices should be issuing new Voter ID cards with new district information. And here's hoping the Democrats decide to challenge every seat this year instead of letting half of them go free of charge to a state Republican party that can't even gerrymander properly.

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