Sunday, August 10, 2014

Republicans Propose Gerrymandered Districts To Replace Gerrymandered Districts

Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
If you have never seen the text above don't feel bad.  Apparently the Republicans in Florida never did either.  Above is the constitutional amendment Floridian voters overwhelmingly approved four years ago during the 2010 midterm elections.  In response to the new constitutional amendment calling for geographically compact and demographically balanced districts, state Republicans, with the aid of lobbyists and political operatives, redrew Florida's congressional districts to maximize Republican votes.

How did they do this?

They carved out every minority neighborhood and democratic stronghold from Orlando to Jacksonville - a 200 mile "compact" stretch.  And don't forget college town Gainesville.  All these areas were shoved into one single "safe" Democratic district held by Corrine Brown, effectively making several other "safe" Republican districts.

These gerrymandered districts were called out by a federal judge in July as being blatant power grabs by the majority party and ordered them redrawn.  So what did Republicans do?

Virtually nothing.

While they gave Brown's "safe" district a little more conservative voters and added some minority neighborhoods to Daniel Webster's conservative district, they also took away a huge swath of Osceola, an area that is 47.8 percent Hispanic (25%of the population being Puerto Ricans), from his district, so essentially the only change was making Corrine Brown's district a little less "safe" while maintaining every adjoining Republican district.

How are these districts constitutional?