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Petition Avalanche Hitting Elections Offices

December 24th, 2009 by flanews

Staff at many of the state’s 67 Elections officers spent part of Christmas Eve dealing with an avalanche of petition forms from Fair Districts Florida.Org. The organization is circulating two petitions and to change the way legislative and congressional boundaries are drawn. Supervisors have until February 1st to verify almost 7 hundred thousand signatures.

Few argue that Floridas congressional and legislative districts are fair. The boundaries are drawn to give the party in power a better shot winning elections. The practice is called gerrymandering and its been going on for decades. As Whitney Ray tells us, if the measures reach the ballot and are approved by at least 3 out of 5 voters in November, state lawmakers will have to draw district lines with fewer political considerations.

Senate District 3 is shaped like a huge claw. It covers parts of 13 counties, from Leon all the way down to Citrus. Senator Charlie Dean represents District 3. Hes also on a committee charged with redrawing the district maps.

Im spread from Northeast Florida all the way to the steps of the Capitol, all the way to central south Florida,” Dean said. “Wheres my continuity?

Senate District 3 isnt the only odd shape on Floridas senate map. 27 is cut in half by Lake Okeechobee and runs from the East coast to the gulf. Congressional District 3 runs from Jacksonville to Orlando.

The maps are drawn to ensure the majority of the voters in most districts are registered in the part in powers favor.

Its called gerrymandering and State Senator Al Lawson says it makes for predictable elections.

The reason why so many races are not very competitive is because you have the districts that are so gerrymandered,” Lawson said. “Pretty much they know that Republicans are going to win a seat or a Democrat is going to win a seat.

Next November, voters may get a chance to vote on two ideas to make the process more fair. Those in control are hoping to knock the amendments off the ballot.

While Republicans are trying to block the change this time, Democrats didnt want any changes when they were in power.

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