HIALEAH GARDENS, Fla. – One day after it was passed by the legislature during a special session, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday he signed a new, controversial congressional redistricting map.
The governor made the announcement during a bill signing ceremony at a charter school in Hialeah Gardens, though he had already signed the bill earlier in the day privately in the state’s capital.
“We also did sign the congressional reapportionment in Tallahassee earlier today,” DeSantis said. “So that’s going to be transmitted, but these are the bills — the Stop W.O.K.E, which passed during the regular session, and then the theme park carve out from our big tech bill and the special districts bill — we’re going to put our John Hancock’s on all of those right now.”
DeSantis’ announcement comes after voting rights groups had already filed a lawsuit against Florida over the congressional map.
The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund and others filed the suit in a state court in Tallahassee. The case alleges the new map violates provisions of the Florida Constitution that prohibit districts from diluting the electoral power of minorities and from being drawn to benefit one political party over another.
“The League and the other plaintiffs have chosen to not stand by while a rogue governor and a complicit state Legislature make a mockery of Florida’s Constitution and try to silence the votes and voices of hundreds of thousands of Black voters,” Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said in a statement.
The congressional map passed in the House Thursday on the last day of a special legislative session the governor had called after vetoing the map previously passed by the legislature.
The bill passed as Black Democratic lawmakers staged a protest of the redistricting map, which the governor himself had submitted, on the grounds that it would increase Florida’s GOP representation in Florida and dismantle two districts now held by Black members of Congress.
“We want people at home to know that we are fighting for them. That this is unbelievable that in 2022 we are trying to diminish Black representation in Congress,” Rep. Travaris McCurdy, D-Orlando, said during the protest. “This is the people’s house, not the governor’s house.”
The governor’s office claims the map is neutral on race and party affiliation, which it said abided by both the state and federal constitutions.
The Florida congressional delegation now has 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats, and the state is poised to gain one U.S. House seat based on the results of the 2020 U.S. census. Many political observers have said the DeSantis map could give Republicans a 20-8 advantage, though Florida’s vast number of unaffiliated voters can swing elections. Such an advantage would help DeSantis, should he run for and win the White House in 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.