Despite concerns of diluting minority voting strength, Florida House moves forward with new redistricting maps

"Our charge was a legally compliant map, and I strongly believe that we're there."

PHOTO VIA HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY OFFICE OF ELECTIONS
PHOTO VIA HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY OFFICE OF ELECTIONS
New House district lines advanced Friday over objections that minority representation will be diluted without a significant increase in the number of districts where voters are likely to elect Black or Hispanic candidates.

In a 13-7 party line vote, the Republican-dominated State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee sent the once-a-decade revamp of House district lines (PCB SRS 22-01) to the Redistricting Committee, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

"Our charge was a legally compliant map, and I strongly believe that we're there,” subcommittee Vice Chairman Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, said.

Subcommittee Chairman Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, said the new lines would split fewer municipalities than in the current map and would provide 18 protected Black districts and 12 protected Hispanic districts.

The House is overseeing the redrawing of its lines while the Senate on Thursday passed a Senate map.

The two chambers will have to come to an agreement on new congressional districts. The Senate approved its congressional proposal Thursday.

In voting against the proposed House districts Friday, Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, said lawmakers had less than three days to review the proposal and that questions remained over minority-access seats.

“We should have increases with the population changes that we've had over the last 10 years,” Arrington said.

Miranda Galindo, senior counsel with LatinoJustice, PRLDEF, contended the proposal would “dilute” Latino political power as it would not increase the number of majority Hispanic voting-age population districts despite Latino population growth.

League of Women Voters of Florida President Cecile Scoon requested the House release data used to craft the districts, saying announced benchmarks are a good start, but more analysis is required.

“It has been essentially on the things that are not essential,” Scoon said. “It has been focusing on compactness and geography, and those things are important, but there should be more focus on the things that are mandatory and that are required by the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act.”

About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
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