The League of Women Voters of Florida supports single-member election districts that are equal in population, that provide access for minorities, are compact, and when possible, take local characteristics, such as political and geographical boundaries, into consideration. The League supports the depoliticizing of the redistricting process and true representation for minorities.
During 2005, many Leaguers statewide collected signed petitions that would put a redistricting amendment on the ballot in 2006. The Committee for Fair Elections collected more than 900,000 signatures, many more than the required number. However, the proposed amendment was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court: the court ruled that the wording of the proposal did not comply with the requirement that only one subject be addressed in an amendment.
By 2007, the League joined the steering committee of FairDistrictsFlorida.org and collected petitions for the two proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that would establish standards for drawing congressional and legislative voting districts. They appeared on the 2010 ballot as Amendments 5 and 6.
During the 2008 legislative session, Senator Charlie Justice introduced a constitutional amendment that would have created an independent commission to draw the lines for districts; it was never placed on any agenda and had no companion legislation in the House. Senator Justice tried again during the 2009 session, but results were the same.
Amendments 5 and 6 addressing redistricting were both passed in the November 2010 election by 63% of voters.
The League feels that it is imperative that the conditions set forth in Amendments 5 and 6 are followed to the letter when new district maps are drawn and approved. Incumbency and party affiliation have no place in the process.
UPDATE / LITIGATION
On February 3, 2012, the Florida House passed their congressional map, and the Senate approved it on February 9. Immediately thereafter, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and National Council of La Raza announced their intention to file suit against the congressional map if signed by the governor.
To view Supreme Court filings relevant to this case, click here.
On September 5, 2012, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and National Council of La Raza filed suit in the Second District Court in Leon County, challenging the constitutionality of the Florida Senate map as drawn by the Legislature. LWVF President Deirdre Macnab explained, "Florida voters made their intent clear when they voted in 2010 to put new redistricting standards in the state constitution. The Florida League believes that the Senate plan does not comply with those standards."
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL COMPLAINT.
On July 10, 2014, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis released an opinion, declaring that the congressional map drawn by the Florida legislature and adopted in 2012 is invalid and unconstitutional. In response to the ruling, Deirdre Macnab stated, "this puts real teeth in the Fair Districts amendments that were passed so overwhelmingly by Florida voters. With many other states grappling with the cancer of gerrymandering, this nationally precedent-setting decision sends a clear message that victories in the name of fair and transparent government are possible. This is a thrilling victory for the people of Florida and for the open, fair and accountable government that for decades the League has worked tirelessly to promote."
TO READ JUDGE TERRY LEWIS' OPINION IN FULL, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
On July 28, 2014, the League of Women Voters of Florida filed this supplemental response in Leon County's 2nd Judicial Circuit Court.
SEND a letter-to-the-editor for publication to your local news outlet expressing your support of fair districts and encouraging the Legislature to appropriately implement Amendments 5 and 6.
DONATE to the League of Women Voters of Florida Advocacy Fund to help us ensure that Florida has fair districts in 2012.
For an educational overview of public participation in the 2012 Florida redistricting process, review Dr. Susan MacManus's article "Redistricting 2012: 5 Lessons Learned."
Check out the article "Making Sense Out of Redistricting and Its Implications for Northeast Florida" by Steven Baker, Ph.D., a professor of political science at Jacksonville University, for more information about how redistricting affects local areas.
Also read Dr. Frank Alcock's article in the Tampa Bay Times on March 6, 2012 "Court ruling will affect maps, future redistricting" for information on the legal implementation of Amendments 5 and 6 in the context of legislatively drawn and approved district maps.