Florida lawmakers are asking for a few more years to fix their legislative boundaries after a judge said they violate the state’s redistricting guidelines. (The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan posted on it here.)
Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled last week that two of Florida’s 2014 district boundaries need to be redrawn because a “secret, organized campaign” by political consultants influenced the process, according to the Miami Herald. The consultants “made a mockery of the Legislature’s transparent and open process of redistricting” and went to “great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it,” Lewis wrote in his 41-page ruling.
Lewis did not, however, give a timetable for doing so, and two lawmakers argue it’s too late to change the map in time for the 2014 election because absentee ballots based on the now invalid districts have already been sent to overseas and military voters, and will be sent to in-state voters next week.
“Any attempt to change the districts at this late stage of the 2014 elections process would cause chaos and confusion and would threaten the rights of our deployed military voters,” wrote Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, both Republicans, in a news release Tuesday. “It has been the practice in other states and in Florida to remedy maps at a future election so as not to disrupt and disenfranchise voters. We believe such action is appropriate.”
The two districts Lewis said needed to be redrawn are currently held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden.
On Monday, arguments began in a case over Texas’ redistricting plan, which the U.S. Justice Department argues discriminates against Hispanic voters. Florida and Texas were both among states required to seek “pre-approval” from the federal government for any changes to its voting or election laws under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 until a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year.