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Judge orders Florida legislators to draw new congressional maps

Legislators have until Aug. 15 to submit new maps to judge; this is what happens when you don’t read the instructions

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“The cure should not be worse for the patient than the illness. To develop a new map and hold a special election for some congressional representatives would cost more money, would place additional burdens on our election officials and might confuse some voters. On the other hand, to do nothing, when you could, means that you lessen the ability of many citizens to fairly elect representatives of their choice – which is the effect of political gerrymandered districts.”

– Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis in his Aug. 1 ruling on Fair Districts




Number of congressional districts drawn in the state of Florida, allegedly keeping in line with the Fair Districts amendments passed in 2010



Number of districts that Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled unconstitutional on July 10, though the redrawing of the two districts will likely affect other adjoining districts


All mapped out

You remember all those summers as a snot-nosed kid rolling around in the back of a station wagon while your father tried to make sense of a poorly folded map – the very map that was intended to lead you to the vacation of your dreams? And remember how, despite said map, you typically had to stop and ask directions anyway? Well, that’s sort of what’s happened over the past month as the whole Fair Districts fight turned the page into its next uncertain chapter. Leon County Judge Terry Lewis declared on Aug. 1 that the 2012 redistricting maps approved by the Florida Legislature were tainted by political influence and two congressional districts in particular need to be redrawn by Aug. 15. Nobody seems to know exactly where that water flume is now. Summer is ruined!

Of course this all stems from 2010, when the public voted that the Legislature should not be in the business of drawing boundaries to protect incumbents, nor the incumbencies of their political allies in Congress. So when a traveling circus of legislators popped up all around the state to talk about redistricting (to, you know, give the appearance of transparency and to explain political cartography to a group of people who merely wanted to know they would have fair representation), it was supposed to seem like the public was being heard. Except we all know now that people weren’t being heard at all, because there were secret consultants and Young Republicans managing the narrative just long enough to be thrown under a bus by the party when the mess came to light. A calamitous lawsuit filed by a group led by the League of Women Voters eventually pulled the teeth out of the Republican argument (basically “Who you callin’ liars?”) and on July 10, Judge Lewis ruled that the Legislature was really bad at lying. Specifically, Lewis pointed out, Congressional Districts 5 (Congresswoman Corrine Brown, D-the whole state) and 10 (Congressman Dan Webster, R-whites only) were products of gerrymandering and must be redrawn. Uh-oh.

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