ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Senate is expected to consider a Congressional redistricting map on Wednesday that will redraw district boundaries and add a new one for the state.
However, this week Gov. Ron DeSantis submitted his own map, claiming legal concerns about the maps the Florida House and Senate are considering.
DeSantis’ map makes vast changes to the Congressional landscape. For one thing, it does not include a Fifth Congressional district that stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, a district currently in place and one that maps proposed in the Florida Senate and House keep in place.
It also changes Florida’s 10th Congressional district, which is represented by Val Demings, D-Orlando. Instead of a majority-minority district encompassing part of Orange County, it becomes a majority-white district that includes parts of Seminole and Lake counties as well.
Use the slider in the center to see the difference between the two maps. On the left is the map the Florida Senate will consider on Wednesday. On the right is the map proposed by Gov. DeSantis.
Dr. Michael McDonald, an associate professor at the University of Florida and an expert on elections and electoral maps, said DeSantis’ map is heavily lopsided in favor of Republican candidates.
“I put it through an application called Planscore, and it is the most gerrymandered of any map considered so far by the Legislature,” McDonald said.
Those metrics include how voters in each district voted for president in 2020.
McDonald said under DeSantis’ map it’s possible Republicans come out with as many as 20 Congressional districts in 2022.
DeSantis’ office released a statement, saying it submitted the map because of legal concerns.
“We have submitted an alternative proposal, which we can support, that adheres to federal and state requirements and addresses our legal concerns, while working to increase district compactness, minimize county splits where feasible, and protect minority voting populations. Because the Governor must approve any congressional map passed by the Legislature, we wanted to provide our proposal as soon as possible and in a transparent manner.”
The fact that the Senate committee on redistricting did not amend its proposed map to DeSantis’ map before moving to the full Florida Senate for a vote shows the Senate, at least, does not agree, according to McDonald.
It remains to be seen whether the Florida House’s redistricting committee, which has yet to settle on its version of a redrawn Congressional map, will consider the DeSantis map.
Once the Florida House and Senate agree on a final new Congressional district map, it will go to DeSantis for his signature. The DeSantis statement indicates he may veto the map if he does not agree with it.
In 2010, Florida voters approved the Fair District amendments, which changed the way the government could redraw district lines. Lawmakers could no longer draw districts that favored one party over another, and districts had to be compact and protect minority representation.
When the legislature failed to follow the amendments, the Fair Districts coalition took the state to court and in the end, the Florida Supreme Court accepted the Fair Districts’ map as the new Congressional district map.
Among the groups behind the Fair District amendments was the Florida League of Women Voters. While the league has not yet commented on DeSantis’ maps, it did issue a statement on the Florida Senate’s version of the redistricting maps on Tuesday, saying they underrepresented minorities in Florida and do not fully utilize the latest 2020 Census data.
This redistricting process is flying through the Legislature without adequate discussion or consideration of how it will impact minority voters,” said League of Women Voters of Florida President Cecile M. Scoon. “We hope legislators will take a pause and consider the impact of these actions before approving the new maps.”
The Florida Legislature is also considering maps that redraw the state House and Senate districts. Final approval of those maps rests with the Florida Supreme Court.