BREAKING: League of Women Voters of Florida and Others Sue Over Gov. DeSantis’ Congressional Map

Press Release » LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS TO FLORIDA LEGISLATURE: Do your redistricting duty, don’t capitulate to Gov. DeSantis 

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS TO FLORIDA LEGISLATURE: Do your redistricting duty, don’t capitulate to Gov. DeSantis 

April 18, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The League of Women Voters of Women Florida is urging the Florida Legislature to fulfill its constitutionally mandated duty to draw fair congressional districts.

With a special session to draw redistricting maps beginning this Tuesday, legislative leaders instead have signaled they intend to cede that responsibility to Gov. Ron DeSantis — an unprecedented abdication that’s in direct conflict with the Florida Constitution. Article III of the state Constitution explicitly places the task of drawing new congressional voting boundaries on the state Legislature, not the Governor. Fulfilling that duty is vital to Florida’s separation of powers and the time-honored system of checks and balances between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government.

In fact, before indicating it would surrender to the Governor, the Legislature did make reasonable efforts to do its constitutionally mandated job, passing a bipartisan redistricting plan that at least attempted to honor the Florida Constitution’s Fair Districts prohibition against politically gerrymandered districts and the Voting Rights Act’s federal prohibition against drawing district maps “that have the effect of reducing, or diluting, minority voting strength.”

The Florida Senate’s very own redistricting webpage concedes that the federal Voting Rights Act “prohibits purposeful discrimination and protects against retrogression — or backsliding — in the ability of racial and language minorities to elect representatives of their choice.” And yet, that’s precisely what Gov. DeSantis’ congressional map would do by eliminating a minority access district in North Florida and diminishing minority influence in an Orlando-based seat. 

The DeSantis proposed congressional map also directly violates the Fair Districts amendment to the state Constitution pertaining to congressional districts, which passed via citizen initiative by 63 percent of Florida’s voters in 2010 to stop political and anti-minority gerrymandering. That amendment states in part: “No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.”

The DeSantis map — developed without any legal authority and with no transparency — flies in the face of the Fair Districts amendment and the Voting Rights Act by rigging Florida’s congressional elections in favor of one political party. In light of the League and other allies’ recent litigation victory against Florida’s Senate Bill 90, where a federal judge found that Florida’s legislature has intentionally discriminated against Black voters for the last twenty years, the Governor’s proposed map falls in line with the twenty years of intentional racial discrimination. Consider that Donald Trump won Florida in 2020 by just 3 percentage points, but DeSantis’ congressional map would shift the number of Republican-majority congressional districts from 16 to 20 out of 28 total seats.

“We’re calling upon the Florida House and Senate to find their courage and memories of their early session promises to uphold the Fair Districts Amendments and Voting Rights Act,” said Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “The legislature’s irresponsible plan to capitulate to the aggression of the Governor nullifies the constitutionally mandated separation of the three branches of government and is moving in the direction of an autocracy.”

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Media Contact:  Blake Summerlin – League of Women Voters of Florida: (772) 217-0772; blake@lwvfl.org

The League of Women Voters of Florida encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund works to register voters, provide voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates.

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