The League of Women Voters of Florida believes the Florida Senate’s proposed plans for Florida’s new congressional and state Senate districts violate the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and Florida’s Constitution because the new district maps don’t adequately reflect the growth of minorities in the state since the 2010 Census and they unfairly favor one party over another.
Floridians voted via citizen initiative for Fair Districts provisions in 2010 and understood what that meant — fair map drawing by prohibiting partisanship and by providing fair opportunities for all voices to be heard.
Redistricting, a once-a-decade process of drawing maps, determines whether citizens of Florida are fairly represented in government — a critical process done by the Florida Legislature that will have a major impact on elections in the future.
“It is undeniable that Florida’s minority population has grown since the creation of the current maps in 2016, which used data from the 2010 Census,” said League of Women Voters of Florida President Cecile M. Scoon, Esq. “At this time, it does not appear as if the Senate has explored the possibility that additional minority districts could be created with data from the 2020 Census. The proper steps must be taken before new district lines are approved to ensure that African American and Hispanic voters are fairly represented in the political process.”
In addition to the maps’ lack of recognition of minority population growth from 2010 to 2020, the League has other concerns regarding specific groupings within the Senate’s current map proposals. These issues include:
- The current Senate maps combine Cuban and non-Cuban Hispanic populations into one district within Miami-Dade County. Data have historically shown that Cuban and non-Cuban Hispanics do not vote cohesively. The combining of these two groups is designed to diminish the voting power of non-Cuban Hispanics and also has the long-term potential to undermine Cuban-American voting strength.
- The Senate maps do not appear to fully protect the voting power of African Americans in Hillsborough and Sarasota counties; this is highlighted by the creation of a district that crosses Tampa Bay into St. Petersburg.
- Both the Senate and Congressional proposals fail to minimize political bias as required by the Fair Districts Amendments, instead consistently favoring one party over the other.
To remedy these issues and others, the League is asking that the Senate use the latest census data to form the basis for drawing all districts. This should include the possibility of new minority districts, resulting from Florida’s rapid population growth in communities of color, rather than merely assuming the previous minority districts drawn after the 2010 Census are still the only districts required after the 2020 Census. In using the latest census data, legislators should also use statistical analyses and racial bloc voting analyses in order to fully comply with both federal and state law.
Following the Senate Reapportionment Committee’s vote to advance maps to the full Senate for final approval, the League of Women Voters of Florida extended an opportunity to every member of the Florida Senate to explain these concerns, but requests were largely ignored.
“This redistricting process is flying through the Legislature without adequate discussion or consideration of how it will impact minority voters,” Scoon said. “We hope legislators will take a pause and consider the impact of these actions before approving the new maps.”
The League of Women Voters of Florida, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, please visit the League’s website: LWVFL.org