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Florida Legislators have cooked the books during redistricting

Roger Caldwell

Roger Caldwell

Florida Legislators have cooked the books during redistricting

By Roger Caldwell

When I was in college my professor always talked about gerrymandering. I thought it was against the law, and if a legislator was caught, they would go to jail. But, I am learning in the Tallahassee courtroom that gerrymandering is standard practice around the country, and Florida legislators are practicing standard operating procedures.

There is a new law in Florida called the Fair Districts Amendment, and districts should be drawn up that does not favor a party. They are supposed to follow geographical boundaries when possible, but it only sounds good on paper.

“Some of the districts, which legislators had claimed were drawn and submitted by an average citizen, appear to have actually been created by a GOP operative and submitted under a phony name. One political scientist testified that it have been “virtually Impossible” for legislators to have drawn the warped districts they did without intentional political bias. Another expert who has studied gerrymandered district all over America, called Florida districts the most biased he had ever seen,” says Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel.

We could argue that Mr. Maxwell is upset and he is exaggerating, but the witnesses, evidence, and testimony support his contention. The legislators knew they were violating the Fair District Amendment, and they didn’t care. The back and forth over secret redistricting documents are smoke screens and mirrors, because the fundamental issue is the legislators broke the law.

After two years of waiting and charging the Republicans of gerrymandering, the Democrats, the League of Women Voters, and other progressive groups are finally getting their day in court. The plaintiffs are extremely upset over four districts in Central Florida, but gerrymandering happened over the entire state. There are even certain Democrats, in the state whose districts did not make logical sense, but they were still cut up so a Democrat can win.

The trial centers around the new 2012 created congressional map, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis must decide if the maps were drawn legally. The plaintiffs’ case is funded by the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, and the Republicans control 17 seats and the Democrats control 10 seats. Redistricting occurs every 10 years, and even though the Fair District Amendment was passed, the party in power has the biggest advantage.

We would like to think that this is a fair game, but politics is a dirty business, and incumbents want to stay in office. “Anyone with one good eye could already see they (the legislators) had pulled off a scam. Instead of sensible districts that follow geographic boundaries and keep communities intact, legislators drew snake-like districts that slither through as many as eight counties,” explains Scott Maxwell.

Legislators want safe districts and if they can get voted back in office with no work the better for them. There were deals being made behind closed doors in the dark, and the trial is bringing the truth to the light.

The final decision will be made by the judge, and the residents are waiting to see if there is justice in Florida. The right decision is to start again, but there is an election in five months, and who is willing to spoil the well cooked apple pie.



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