Florida Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Congressional Maps Drawn by Voters Coalition

Your brand new congressional districts!EXPAND
Your brand new congressional districts!

Welcome to Florida, where we can't even draw proper congressional districts. 

Every ten years, the state legislature is entrusted with redrawing the boundaries of both state and federal congressional districts to account for changes in population. The process began four whole years ago, but the original districts drawn were thrown out by Florida's Supreme Court in July. A constitutional amendment passed by Floridians outlawed the practice of gerrymandering, or drawing districts to favor a particular party without regard to the community. The legislature has tried since then to draw new maps. Those efforts have been an oft-stalled comedy of errors. 

Today, the State Supreme Court hopes to bring "much-needed finality" to the stage. It voted 5-2 to approve maps drawn not by the state legislature but rather by a voters coalition that includes groups like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause. The maps had previously been approved by a circuit judge. 

Twenty-two of the state's 27 congressional districts will see some change, though the most drastic will be in central and northern Florida. This map, from MCI Maps via Creative Loafing, shows which areas will be affected. If you live in a red area you're in a new district. 

Most of Florida's incumbent congressmen and women will have a fair shot at reelection even with the new maps, but three in particular will see the tilt of their districts change: Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democrat from Tallahassee; Dan Webster, a Republican from Winter Garden; and David Jolly, a Republican from Indian Shores, are now no longer sitting pretty. Other districts will retain their partisan tilt, but may now become more competitive. 

Graham, the daughter of former Gov. Bob Graham, won a surprising upset in the already Republican-leaning district in 2014, but now the district is even more red. Jolly, meanwhile, has announced he won't seek reelection and is running for Marco Rubio's soon-to-be-open senate seat instead. 

The original maps, drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature, were generally believed to favor Republicans. Though the state has voted for President Barack Obama for the past two elections and has more registered Democrat voters than Republicans, Florida is currently represented by 17 Republicans and just ten Democrats. 

Though, some Democratic lawmakers did personally benefit from the previous maps. Rep. Corrine Brown's current district snakes all the way from Jacksonville to the Orlando area and includes many African-American voters. Her new district will now consist of areas of Jacksonville and many communities near the Florida-Georgia border. 

Along with Miami Rep. Frederica Wilson, Brown has promised to challenge the map in court. They claim the new maps make it harder to elect minority legislators. 

Though if the map stands, it will be used for the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections. The process to draw new maps will begin after 2020 in time for the 2022 election.

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