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Gerrymandering in Florida

November 25th, 2008 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

State Supreme Court Justices are reviewing a proposal that could change the way legislative districts are drawn. Since Republicans took over in the mid 1990s, the districts are setup to give Republicans an advantage. And as Whitney Ray tells us, the recent Florida vote may be the proof the court needs to make changes for the future.

Hear it Here: Gerrymandering

On November 4th America spoke. Democrats won the White House and gained seats in Congress. Democrats outnumber Republicans here, but the state legislature remains overwhelmingly Republican. House Speaker Ray Sansom says voters made a conscious choice.

I commend the voters because they did a great job, in my opinion in Florida, of separating us from the national congress, Sansom said.

But choice at the state level was slim. One reason Obama lacked coat tails, says ACLU Spokesman Larry Spalding, is because legislative district lines give Republicans an unfair advantage.

We dont have competitive districts and the only reason we dont have competitive districts is because the legislature essentially gets to pick its own seats, Spalding said.

When the party in power draws lines to make sure they stay in the majority, its called gerrymandering.

A proposed constitutional amendment to stop gerrymandering is waiting for a decision from the Florida Supreme Court.

Attorney Barry Richard is arguing to put the amendment on the 2010 ballot.

Because the Republicans are in power now and because theyve drawn the districting, Democrats have a higher burden than Republicans in order to change the face of the legislature, Richard said.

The amendment, if approved by the court, would require fewer political considerations and more fairness when lines are redrawn in time for 2012.

If the anti-gerrymandering amendment is approved for the 2010 ballot it would need 60 percent approval to pass.

Posted in Elections, Legislature, State News, Voting | 7 Comments »

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