Redistricting is sure to bring out the least desirable personalities of lawmakers in their effort to redraw political districts that will affect state and federal representatives’ ability to stay in office and be reelected as their voting constituents will change. In most cases, with the recent Florida constitutional amendments passed in 2010, it will cause both republicans and democrats to lose comfortable leads.
Every 10 years, just after a census, states including Florida must redraw their political districts to accommodate for population growth or loss, the influx of minorities, and other factors in an attempt to have a fair representation of the population. While this process at face value seems straightforward and simple, it is seldom resolved without a court being the final arbitrator. This year the Florida legislature will redraw the state and federal districts from which we elect our senators and representatives, and Florida passed a constitutional amendment in 2010 requiring districts to be more compact, and do not favor incumbents over any other challenger.
Florida has some of the least compact districts; Rep. Corrine Brown’s district is a narrow finger-like district stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando. Most districts will have to give up some of their constituents, while others will gain. Though the state has far more registered democrats than republicans, the current district lines make it easier for Republicans to be elected, and as such, the state’s congressional delegation is dominated by republicans. The new model should make each election more of a contest. However, this process will threaten entrenched incumbents’ possibility of being reelected as who they represent will change significantly.
The reapportioning is required by the Florida Constitution the year after the census, which happens every 10 years. In the past, it has been largely a political process full of personal interests, which is why Florida has several counties and districts under watch or control of federal regulators. There has not been an independent body or commission tasked with drawing district lines like there are in some states.
House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, says he wants to start with a “clean slate”, and will have a series of 26 meetings around the state this summer to receive input from the public, dubbed “the listening tour”.
2010 population: 18.8 million, up front 15.89 million in 2000, which means Florida will gain 2 more congressional seats on Capitol Hill in Washinton, D.C., for a new total of 27.
696,000: the new size of the population each district will represent in Washington, up from 639,000.