Florida needs a redistricting commission to draw up maps
By Roger Caldwell
Gerrymandering in Florida is alive and well, and our legislators are satisfied with the way things are. The Florida Supreme Court has given the Legislature two chances to get it right in drawing up Fair District Maps, and each time they violated the state’s constitutional laws. It is time for our legislators and the Florida Supreme Court to develop a different system, which is impartial and transparent.
Many Blacks don’t understand the reason gerrymandering is so important in the state of Florida. The primary goal of gerrymandering is to keep the present party in power by drawing up districts maps where their supporters are the majority. In the last twenty years, the Republican Party has been in power, and many political experts believe it is because of gerrymandering.
In the Wikipedia Encyclopedia it states, “In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a particular party, gerrymandering may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group, such as in U.S. federal voting district boundaries that produce a majority of constituents representative of African American or other racial minorities, known as majority-minority districts.”
There have been in Florida three majority-minority districts and Corrine ‘Gerrymandering’ Brown has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Florida courts from drawing new district maps that would impact her district. But, everyone in the state knows her district is an example of gerrymandering at its best, and it is time to be fair and make a change.
In six states in the country, their districts are drawn by bipartisan panels or independent commissions, and they have been found to be fairer and more competitive. When districts are competitive, they force lawmakers to appeal to the middle rather to the extreme members of their party. The candidates spend more time discussing local issues that impact the residents, as opposed to a personality contest.
Florida has 27 congressional districts and the House and Senate cannot compromise on the new maps. The Supreme Court is correct when it alleges that the districts were cut up to give certain parties and groups advantages in terms of voters. Corrine Brown’s district is cut up like a snake and it travels through three counties.
By making the districts more competitive, it may help a minority candidate get elected to a neighboring district. The demographics are changing and it is time for other Black Democrats to challenge Corrine Brown’s safe district.
Compact districts make more sense because the constituents will see more of their representatives, and force their lawmakers to be more responsive to their needs. By being more responsive to issues, the residents should know their representatives by name, and be able to identify what they have achieved
It has been said before that voters should pick their lawmakers, but lawmakers shouldn’t be able to pick their voters. Florida election maps should be drawn up by an independent redistricting commission and not by politicians in Tallahassee.