Partisan politicians have weakened voters’ voices by silencing community power and influence.
Learn about redistricting and how you can get involved in the fight for fair districts!
In the United States, voters elect lawmakers to represent them. Voters elect lawmakers based on the area they live in, called districts. The Florida Legislature draws these district maps for the State Legislature and Florida’s federal Congressional Delegation.
U.S. residents almost always live in areas that are represented by different elected officials at many levels of government. This decentralized and hierarchical system of government depends on fair and accurate districts. Fair districts ensure that electoral processes reflect the will of the people.
HOW ARE POLITICAL DISTRICTS CREATED?
The U.S. Constitution mandates that the federal government conduct the Census (an official count of everyone who lives in the U.S.) every ten years. The Census informs how elected officials should draw political districts. This is because each district should be more-or-less equal in population. As a state or region grows, so should their influence in the halls of government.
The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929 limited the federal House of Representatives to 435 seats. Because of Florida’s continued population growth over the past ten years, our state will gain one district and another state will lose one district. This will bring Florida to 28 Congressional districts for the 2022 election. Exactly where this new district will be located will be determined in the redistricting process.
The Florida Legislature is currently made up of 120 districts in the state House of Representatives and 40 districts in the state Senate. Each of these districts changes every ten years, some more than others.
WHAT IF THE DISTRICTS AREN’T FAIR?
Fair districts are vital to the health of our republic. A challenge is ensuring that elected leaders draw political maps fairly. Unfortunately, legislators want to keep their power and maintain their party’s dominance. So, they draw maps to create “can’t lose” districts for themselves. This unfair technique is called gerrymandering. Self-serving politicians use partisan gerrymandering to manipulate the system.
Gerrymandering impacts the issues we care about, including climate change, healthcare, and education. It is harder to make progress on issues that so many Floridians support when our elected officials do not reflect the true will of the people.
HOW CAN YOU HELP STOP PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING AND PROTECT OUR REPUBLIC?
A key way to ensure lawmakers draw fair maps is to ask them to follow the Fair Districts provisions in the Florida Constitution. These provisions stop legislators from drawing districts to benefit themselves or their parties. These provisions also ensure that they cannot draw districts to lessen the rights of minority voters.
In 2012, the Florida Legislature proved that they could not be trusted. They passed gerrymandered maps, resulting in years of court battles at taxpayers’ expense. Now, legislators have to earn back our trust by being honest, transparent, and by following the law. But we have to let them know we are watching.
Share the Fair Districts Pledge.
Ask your elected officials to commit to play by the rules by signing the Fair Districts Pledge. It’s the easiest way to let our lawmakers know that the public is watching and we demand transparency.
Meet with your state legislators. Attend a meeting with your elected state legislators. This is one of the most effective ways to ensure you are being heard. Call their office and ask for an in-person or virtual meeting to talk about their role in the redistricting process. A meeting is also a great time to ask legislators to sign the Fair Districts Pledge! Find your local elected officials’ contact information here.
Attend community meetings and town halls. Many civic engagement groups will hold community events this summer. Attend these meetings to learn more about what is happening in your local community and how you can help.
Attend official redistricting meetings. In the past, the Florida Legislature has held public meetings to discuss new district boundaries. Unfortunately, we do not have a schedule or timeline for these meetings yet, but meetings may begin in fall 2021. Please stay tuned for more information.
Share information with your friends and family. You can help by spreading the word about how we can better protect our rights. Tell your friends and family to get involved. We need a team of folks that are attending meetings, sharing relevant news articles, and asking questions of elected officials.