A Florida judge has thrown out the state's congressional redistricting map in a scathing decision that he said reveals a "secret, organized campaign" to create "a shadow redistricting process" that favors Republicans.
"What is clear to me from the evidence, as described in more detail below, is that this group of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process. They accomplished this by writing scripts for and organizing groups of people to attend the public hearings to advocate for adoption of certain components or characteristics in the maps, and by submitting maps and partial maps through the public process, all with the intention of obtaining enacted maps for the State House and Senate and for Congress that would favor the Republican Party.
"They made a mockery of the Legislature's proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting by doing all of this in the shadow of that process, utilizing the access it gave them to the decision makers, but going to great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it. They were successful in their efforts to influence the redistricting process and the congressional plan under review here. And they might have successfully concealed their scheme and their actions from the public had it not been for the Plaintiffs' determined efforts to uncover it in this case."
A coalition led by the League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit, which is now expected to be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Right now, it's unclear how the ruling will affect the upcoming November election. Two districts will need to be redrawn – and possibly many of the surrounding districts.
The Florida ruling is a strong indictment of the redistricting process in the Sunshine State and many other states.
CWA will continue working with its allies in the Democracy Initiative to combat these schemes to suppress voters' rights. We can't allow state legislatures to limit our democracy. There must be more independent redistricting commissions to guarantee fair congressional boundaries that don't favor either political party.