Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE - A contentious battle over Florida state senate districts is coming to an end. read more »

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

01/20/2016
Clearing the way for elections later this year with a map that could boost Democrats' numbers in the Senate, Republican leaders decided Wednesday not to appeal a Leon County judge's ruling setting districts for the chamber's 40 seats. read more »

Florida Senate won't appeal ruling on new districts

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE — Senate leaders said Wednesday that they will not appeal last month's court ruling that sided with a voters' coalition in setting new district boundaries. read more »

Florida Legislature won't appeal redistricting ruling

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature is giving up the fight and will not contest a court ruling that redraws all of the state's 40 state senate districts for the 2016 election cycle. read more »

Editorial: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals

01/10/2016
For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge's ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. read more »

Renumbering state Senate districts triggers political scramble

01/10/2016
TALLAHASSEE — It may sound like a simple process, but the Florida Senate's random renumbering of all its districts statewide Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga. read more »

Editorial: Legislature's map gets it wrong again

01/10/2016
Six days after Circuit Judge George Reynolds rejected a Florida Senate redistricting map, today the auditor general will randomly assign numbers to districts on a map approved by that judge. read more »

Florida senators react to new elections due to redistricting

01/10/2016
It's going to be a bigger ballot for the November election. That's because all 40 state senators will be up for election, which is due to the new district lines drawn throughout the state. read more »

No waste of tax money on new Florida state Senate redistricting court case

01/10/2016
Let's all ask our state legislators not to follow Sen. Bill Galvano's suggestion to appeal Judge George Reynolds' Circuit Court decision to approve the redistricting plan submitted by a coalition of voting rights groups. According to the Dec. 30 Bradenton Herald, we've spent over $8 million so far, and Galvano says he wants to appeal. read more »

Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez considering run against Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla

01/10/2016
Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, is weighing a run for Florida Senate against incumbent Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami. read more »

State Senate candidates scramble for seats as districts renumbered

01/08/2016
The 40 districts in the newly approved state Senate district map on Tuesday were randomly assigned odd and even numbers. read more »

Fair Districts won't change much, but were worth fighting for

01/04/2016
The net change of some six years of Capitol intrigue is likely to be not much, at least not at first. Maybe a couple seats in the U.S. House of Representatives go from Republican to Democratic, and perhaps a small number of state Senate districts will flip the same way this year. read more »

Legislators can't handle redistricting

01/04/2016
For advocates of creating an independent panel to draw Florida's congressional and legislative district lines, a Leon County judge provided an exclamation point this past week. read more »

Judge formally adopts plaintiffs' congressional maps, putting lawsuit to rest

12/22/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The more than three-year legal challenge to Florida's congressional maps came to an end in state circuit court Monday when a judge formally adopted the plaintiffs' proposal. read more »

Florida Supreme Court finalizes congressional districts

12/03/2015
The Florida Supreme Court has approved a congressional district map, ending a saga that began with the 2010 census, carried on through courts and a special legislative session, and means big changes for some South Florida congressional districts. read more »

Editorial: Supreme Court approves fairer congressional districts

12/02/2015
Floridians finally should be able to cast ballots next year in congressional districts that meet the constitutional amendments voters approved five years ago to eliminate the partisan rigging of the boundary lines. The Florida Supreme Court approved the new districts Wednesday, and they are an improvement over the old ones for Tampa Bay and for the state. It took three failed attempts by the Legislature, four years of lawsuits and eight state Supreme Court opinions on redistricting — but it should be worth the wait. read more »

What Florida's New Congressional Map Means for 2016

12/02/2015
Flor­ida fi­nally has a con­gres­sion­al map in place for the 2016 cycle after months of un­cer­tainty and nearly four years of leg­al battles over the old dis­trict lines. read more »

Florida Democrats Make Gains With Court-Approved Congressional Map

12/02/2015
The court on Wednesday approved a new map, writing in a 5-2 opinion that the lines "should bring much needed finality" to the redistricting drama that has plagued Florida for four years. read more »

Florida Supreme Court approves overhaul of congressional maps

12/02/2015
The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a plan to overhaul state congressional boundaries that a judge had declared unconstitutionally gerrymandered, a move that jeopardizes several incumbents in the 2016 election. read more »

Supreme Court approves new districts, sides with voter groups

12/02/2015
TALLAHASSEE — In a ruling that could alter the landscape of politics in Central Florida and across the state, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with voter-rights groups challenging the Legislature's attempts to redraw 27 congressional districts. read more »

Florida Supreme Court upholds congressional redistricting

12/02/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court approved a sweeping overhaul of the state's congressional districts on Wednesday, a move that will upend the political landscape ahead of the pivotal 2016 elections. read more »

Supreme Court votes 5-2 in favor of congressional redistricting map drawn by challengers

12/02/2015
With just over four years left before another redistricting cycle begins, the Florida Supreme Court gave final approval to Floridas congressional map Wednesday, rejecting the Legislatures arguments for the fourth time and selecting boundaries drawn by a the challengers in time for the 2016 election. read more »

Update: Redistricting challengers amend filed maps, withdraw plan that does not cross Tampa Bay

11/24/2015
The challengers, a coalition of individuals and voting groups led by the League of Women Voters, had argued that the Legislature should have updated its voting data to include the primaries of 2012 and 2014 which would have helped to show the strength of black voting performance in the districts. read more »

MAPS SHUFFLED IN STATE SENATE REDISTRICTING FIGHT

11/24/2015
On Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others withdrew two maps and submitted a new "corrected" map, after filing six versions of a redrawn district map last week. read more »

Redistricting jury should pick Florida's new plan

11/23/2015
The jury would meet for only one day. Advocates for each map would make their initial case, then rebut their opponents' arguments. Jurors would then vote.


Florida's Supreme Court would review the map to ensure it complied with state law. read more »

Senate sends combination map to high court

11/18/2015
The Florida Senate on Wednesday recommended to a Leon County judge a plan for the chamber's 40 districts that was never voted on by either the House or Senate during a recent special redistricting session. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Weighs Redistricting Plans

11/10/2015
A key Florida Supreme Court justice sounded skeptical Tuesday about the Legislature's proposal for a contested South Florida district in a battle over the map for the state's congressional delegation. read more »

State Supreme Court considers changes to Florida's 27 congressional districts

11/10/2015
The hope is that the court will soon end three years of lawsuits, court hearings and special sessions by finally endorsing a new map for the state's 27 congressional districts ahead of the pivotal 2016 elections. read more »

Congressional redistricting back before Florida Supreme Court, with focus on Miami and Palm Beach County

11/10/2015
Florida's three-year battle over congressional districts landed again Tuesday before the state Supreme Court, with attorneys for the House and Senate fighting against a map drawn by a voters' coalition. read more »

Legislature asks Florida Supreme Court to pick a different congressional map

11/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The three-year battle over Florida's congressional boundaries moved to the state's highest court Tuesday where lawyers for the Legislature tried to get a trial court map declared unconstitutional but instead found themselves defending the way lawmakers handled two Hispanic districts in Miami-Dade County. read more »

4 sessions, 3 breakdowns for Florida Legislature come at a cost to taxpayers

11/07/2015
The Florida Legislature's failures are costing taxpayers a lot of money. read more »

Hand duty for maps to commission: Where We Stand

11/07/2015
Watching the Florida Legislature deal with redistricting has become like sitting through the movie Groundhog Day. There is a certain predictability to events. read more »

After session filled with Frankenstein maps, Senate Republicans piece together new leadership team

11/06/2015
For Florida Republican senators. the special session on redistricting dissolved in bickering over a map — but there also was a big moment of unity. read more »

Editorial: Hope amid redistricting failure

11/06/2015
You could see this coming. The Florida Legislature's three-week special session ended this week with no agreement on new state Senate districts, another waste of time and money. Now the courts will draw the new districts just as they drew the congressional districts, but that will not end the whining from the legislative branch. read more »

Florida lawmakers say failure to agree on maps doesn't indicate legislative gridlock

11/06/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Legislature's special session to draw a new Senate map ended without an agreement, and now courts will complete the job.


It was the third time this year things ended like this. read more »

Lawmakers Ponder New Redistricting Methods

11/06/2015
TALLAHASSEE - After a second consecutive redistricting session fell apart Thursday and the Legislature went home yet again without passing a map, lawmakers' message was more or less: We told you so. read more »

KEN DETZNER, SOES TALK REDISTRICTING DROP-DEAD DATE SECURITY RISKS FROM WITHIN

11/06/2015
The Imeson Park office of the Duval County Supervisor of Elections, on Jacksonville's Northside, has had many incarnations. It was once a call center for America Online, back when America Online required call centers. Before that, it was a Sears Outlet store, a repository for slightly bruised appliances and irregular clothing. read more »

Florida Elections Supervisors Want Redistricting Complete By Mid-December

11/06/2015
As Florida lawmakers continue wrangling with redistricting, the state's county elections supervisors say their drop-dead date for district boundary changes is mid-December. read more »

Politics doomed Senate redistricting efforts

11/06/2015
TALLAHASSEE — In Florida's latest redistricting failure, the unstoppable force of politics smashed into the state's immovable constitution. read more »

Fallout from session: Corcoran and Oliva support considering redistricting commission

11/05/2015
Now, after a second special session imploded Thursday and legislators left town without an agreement on a redistricting map to draw state Senate boundaries, incoming House speaker Richard Corcoran and House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva are also on board. read more »

Florida: Lawmakers Leave Senate Map in Court's Hands

11/05/2015
The State Senate rejected a map to create new districts for itself and adjourned Thursday, leaving the Legislature with its second failed special session this year. read more »

Florida House, Senate can't resolve differences on Senate districts

11/05/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Senate rejected a map to create new districts for itself and adjourned Thursday, leaving the Legislature with its second failed special session this year. read more »

Florida Senate defeats redistricting map; session crashes

11/05/2015
A last-ditch effort to keep the courts from drawing state Senate districts collapsed Thursday, as senators voted down a plan proposed by the House and a special session called to draw the lines crashed to an end. read more »

Florida Senate votes down compromise map; special session ends with no result

11/05/2015
After three weeks and mounds of draft maps, Florida legislators ended another special session on redistricting Thursday without a resolution, leaving 40 Senate districts in limbo for the 2016 election and renewing calls for an independent commission to handle the drawing of political boundaries. read more »

Searching for votes to pass a map, Senate asks House to revise Miami districts

11/05/2015
Miami Dade's Hispanic districts remained the focal point of the high stakes conflict between the House and Senate over the redrawing of the state Senate boundaries Wednesday as it became apparent that Senate leaders did not have the votes to pass a House map that significantly revised the configuration of the South Florida districts. read more »

Florida Senate rejects House redisticting plan, raising stalemate fear

11/05/2015
The Senate rejected the House's plan for drawing its district boundaries Wednesday, sending lawmakers back to the bargaining table in hopes of a last-ditch deal on redistricting. read more »

Lawmakers stumble toward redistricting finish line

11/05/2015
Under a pressing deadline to avoid more redistricting gridlock, Florida lawmakers formally began talks late Wednesday to resolve the differences in their plans to redraw 40 state Senate districts. read more »

Florida House approves Senate redistricting map that would put all of Manatee in same district

11/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators made quick progress on redrawing the Senate map Tuesday, voting out a Florida House proposal after just an hour of debate, but the measure appeared headed for trouble as lawmakers edged closer to the self-imposed Friday deadline for the special session with no agreement in sight. read more »

SOUTH FLORIDA KEY ISSUE AS REDISTRICTING TALKS OPEN

11/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE - South Florida emerged Wednesday as the final barrier to an agreement between legislative leaders about a redistricting plan for the state Senate, even as resistance to other parts of a House-passed map raised questions about whether a majority of senators could be persuaded to back the proposal. read more »

Our opinion: Non-partisan commission needed

11/03/2015
As recovering alcoholics know, there are no half measures or middle grounds - they just have to quit drinking and accept their new reality. Not even just one sip of just one beer. read more »

House OKs its version of Senate districts but opens door to compromise

11/03/2015
TALLAHASSEE —The Florida House approved a proposal Tuesday for redrawing Senate districts that diverges sharply from the Senate version but left the door open for negotiations on a compromise while the special session continues this week. read more »

Divided Florida House passes new Senate map

11/03/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Rushing to meet a looming deadline, the Republican-controlled Florida House on Tuesday passed a new map that sets boundaries for the state's 40 Senate districts. read more »

House approves own map; is showdown near?

11/03/2015
With time winding down, the redistricting ball is back in the Senate's court, after the House voted 73-47 Tuesday on its own proposal to redraw 40 Senate districts. read more »

House Tosses Revamped Redistricting Plan Back To Senate

11/03/2015
TALLAHASSEE - House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve a redistricting plan for the state Senate, setting up the delicate endgame for a three-week special session called to finally bring Florida's political boundaries into line with a voter-approved ban on gerrymandering. read more »

House passes new redistricting plan, Senate clash awaits

11/03/2015
TALLAHASSEE - With time winding down, the redistricting ball is back in the Senate's court, after a divided House voted 73-47 Tuesday on its own proposal to redraw 40 Senate districts. read more »

House poised to clash with Senate over new map

11/03/2015
As lawmakers head into their third and final week of a special session, the House appears to be on a collision course with the Senate over new political boundaries for the state's 40 Senate districts. read more »

House redistricting lines veer away from Senate plan

11/03/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The House redistricting committee voted along party lines Monday to approve its version of new districts for the state Senate, potentially setting up a battle with the upper chamber as a special session on the map entered its final week. read more »

Florida House has its own idea for how Senate map should look

11/03/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers again are going separate ways in drawing the boundaries of Senate districts, with the House advancing a plan Monday that strays widely from that approved by senators. read more »

More late-night maps: challengers submit two new Senate plans

11/03/2015
The coalition of voter groups led by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida "is concerned that the Legislature's proposals continue to reflect constitutional infirmities and evidently fail to take into account ongoing developments in minority voting in certain communities," wrote David King, lead attorney for the groups that have challenged the Legislature's redistricting maps. read more »

Game changer? Challengers' Senate maps could mean Senate parity

11/03/2015
Following the same formula they used last week, the challengers to Florida's redistricting maps offered up two plans on the eve of the first floor vote late Monday, lobbing a giant jump ball to the Republican controlled House.


If they are offered as amendments today, as expected, they could result in some interesting discussion. read more »

Florida House advances new Senate redistricting map

11/02/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House put its mark on the Senate redistricting map Monday, approving a new plan that merges pieces of the Senate plan and that of the challengers with its own additions in a way that slightly improves prospects for Democrats. read more »

Senate to begin debate on district boundaries

10/27/2015
Florida senators today are slated to begin debate on new boundaries for their election districts which in Palm Beach County will shrink the number of state senators from four to three. read more »

Senate Democrats, in rare position of leverage, vow unified vote against GOP map

10/27/2015
The Florida Senate Democratic caucus, nearly outnumbered two to one in the 40-member chamber by Republicans, have found themselves in a rare position of strength amid a divided Republican caucus that is now splittered by a bitter feud over the 2016 Senate presidency fight. read more »

Editorial: Florida GOP must stop fighting fairness

10/26/2015
Voters owe a big round of applause to federal Judge Casey Rodgers who recently put the smack down on an absurd political move to undermine Florida's Fair Districts amendment. read more »

Orlando Senate seats shift under proposed map

10/26/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Senators will begin tinkering with a proposal to redraw 40 Senate districts Friday, in a move that could drastically alter how some areas of Central Florida are represented in the chamber.


read more »

New map gets nod, forces all state senators to run in 2016

10/26/2015
The Florida Senate's redistricting committee has approved a map that will go to the Senate floor for a vote next week. read more »

Map this Challengers supply some of the missing 2012 election data to Legislature

10/26/2015

The redistricting challengers threw a wrench into the map-drawing plans of the Florida Legislature late Monday, delivering election data to them that adds new detail to the question of where to draw minority districts particularly in South Florida and Tampa Bay on the eve of the first state Senate vote on Tuesday. read more »

On redistricting, Webster whines, spends, heads to court

10/26/2015
Unfortunately, today I have seen a compelling case made for Daniel Webster as a self-serving, lawsuit-happy gerrymanderer. read more »

PARTIES IN REDISTRICTING CASE TELL DANIEL WEBSTER: BUTT OUT

10/26/2015
Those now involved in the ongoing congressional redistricting challenge are against letting Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster become a new party in the case, according to court filings released Monday. read more »

Senate moves on map but rocky redistricting road ahead

10/23/2015
TALLAHASSEE - With grudging support, a Florida Senate panel approved a plan Friday that would put all 40 seats in the chamber on the ballot in 2016. read more »

Dan Webster asks Supreme Court to let him intervene in congressional case

10/23/2015
Arguing that the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the state's congressional redistricting challenge could leave him without a district, U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Orlando, on Friday filed to intervene in the case before the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that violates the constitution. read more »

Update: Who won the four-year Senate district lottery? Results here

10/22/2015
Four years ago they brought in Lotto balls and the tumbling cage to randomly select which districts got the odd or even numbers that determined whether senators with new districts would get two or four-year terms. On Thursday, the Senate district lottery took the form of a random software program used by the state's auditor general. read more »

Your new state Senate districts are here for now

10/22/2015
The stalwart fighters for truth and justice in the Florida Press Corps had a late night last night as state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, turned in a proposed state Senate district map around 6 p.m. There followed a great deal of number crunching and line reading, with reporters from across the state telling readers what the map means for their area of Florida. And, hey, here's what the map means for South Florida, as written by me. read more »

Lawmakers return for Senate map special session, committee meetings

10/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE | The Florida Legislature is convening this morning to begin a special session to redraw the Senate Senate map. At the same time, lawmakers will be holding already scheduled committee meetings ahead of the 2016 session that begins in January. read more »

Legislators return for special session questions remain

10/19/2015
Legislators return to the state Capitol on Monday for yet another session on redistricting. This time, they'll be drawing the state Senate map and it's going to get difficult and personal. read more »

Legislature back in town for third try on redistricting

10/19/2015
Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner said the three-week session could become a dogfight. read more »

Florida legislators forced to draw new state Senate districts, return for 19-day session

10/19/2015
Despite a bumpy and contentious year, the Republican-led Florida Legislature returns to the state Capitol on Monday with the goal of trying to draw up new maps for 40 state Senate districts.


read more »

It's Map-Drawing Time Again For Florida Legislators

10/18/2015
The meeting also marks the third time that lawmakers have altered the boundaries of state Senate districts since 2012. This session is scheduled to last up to 19 days. read more »

Stakes are high for new Senate lines

10/18/2015
The partisan balance of the Florida Senate could shift, political careers may be dashed and precedent will be set for future redistricting efforts as the Legislature kicks off a two-week special session today to redraw the Senate district lines. read more »

Lawmakers return (again) for special mapping session

10/18/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers are heading back to an expensive, well-worn drawing board. read more »

Tia Mitchell: State Senate map proposals divide Northeast Florida in new ways

10/17/2015
This week the state Legislature begins its third special session of 2015 and its fourth attempt to draw constitutionally sound House, Senate and congressional maps since 2012. read more »

Redistricting session could be a dogfight

10/17/2015
Tallahassee Sen. Bill Montford sits on the joint committee which will draw new map. Proposals don't touch a single blade of grass in the district he represents read more »

Will new Senate map create new direction?

10/16/2015
Starting today, the Florida Legislature has a chance to accomplish two important things. read more »

Editorial: Drawing legal Senate districts a long shot

10/16/2015
The Florida Legislature opens still another special session this week, one last chance to follow the state Constitution and draw state Senate districts that meet the requirements voters approved five years ago. Don't hold your breath. There are too many political careers at stake, too many feuds between Republican lawmakers and too many ulterior motives to expect this bunch to agree on new districts that would pass the legal tests. The courts have drawn new congressional districts, and it's a safe bet they will take charge of the Senate districts as well. read more »

$11 million later, Florida lawmakers are still trying to fix botched voting maps

10/16/2015
TALLAHASSEE —In what may be one of the most expensive do-overs in Florida political history, lawmakers return Monday in special session to complete something they failed to get right three years ago — the realignment of state Senate district boundaries to accommodate population growth. read more »

For Abruzzo's Senate seat, redistricting may mean, go west

10/16/2015
Already a far western district, Palm Beach County's Senate District 25 could become even more densely concentrated away from the coast when state legislators redraw boundaries beginning next week. read more »

Court grants House request for delay in redistricting hearing

10/16/2015
The Florida Supreme Court has granted a request for a delay in the oral arguments for the congressional redistricting map, postponing the hearing originally set for Monday, Nov. 2 to Tuesday, Nov. 10. read more »

Senate wants Supreme Court to reject Lewis redistricting recommendation

10/16/2015
In the redistricting battle that has become Tallahassee's political soap opera, the Florida Senate on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to reject the map recommended by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis which it says was drawn in secret and instead pick one of the two maps offered by the Senate. read more »

Justices delay congressional redistricting arguments by a week

10/15/2015
Lawyers for the House, Senate and a pair of voting groups will have 20 minutes each to make their case to the state's seven justices. read more »

Supreme Court grants House's request to reschedule oral argument in redistricting case

10/15/2015
The Florida Supreme Court has reset oral argument in the congressional redistricting case for Nov. 10, according to an order released Friday. read more »

Judge rejects House, Senate redistricting map, recommends challengers' plan

10/13/2015
Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis on Friday gave tentative approval to a new congressional redistricting map that has the potential to unseat at least three incumbent congressional candidates and opens the doors for others to enter the fray. read more »

Democrat Braynon submits first proposed Senate map

10/13/2015
Republican leaders of the Florida Legislature asked staff to come up with a series of base maps that will be used to guide discussion during the redistricting special session that begins Oct. 19 and is expected to result in a new Florida Senate map read more »

Redistricting fallout: Will Corrine Brown run for Orlando seat?

10/13/2015
It is no secret that U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown doesn't like the new east-west configuration for her District 5 congressional seat. But will she abandon it all together for a shot at a new Central Florida district that is being eyed as the new frontier for electing an African-American to Congress? read more »

Top Democrat releases first proposed redistricting map for Florida Senate

10/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Working alone with only a tape recorder and the Senate redistricting staff director, Democratic Sen. Oscar Braynon became the first to file a Senate map for the redistricting special session because, he said, he wanted to prove that Democrats can draw maps too. read more »

Florida Congressional redistricting trial closes: What did we learn? What's unanswered?

09/29/2015
Florida's third redistricting trial over the congressional map is reaching its close today. It's try No. 3 for Florida lawmakers after the Florida Supreme Court invalidated the congressional map used in the last two elections as being the product of improper political intent in violation of the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution. read more »

Congressional maps now in judge's hands

09/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Florida's third redistricting trial came to a close Monday, leaving the fate of the state's 27 congressional districts in the hands of a Leon County Circuit Court judge who has less than three weeks to make a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court. read more »

Redistricting ruling could come next week

09/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE — After closing arguments in a three-day hearing over the shape of the state's congressional districts, a Leon County judge said Monday he will try to choose a map to recommend to the Florida Supreme Court next week. read more »

Florida congressional districts now up to judge to sort out

09/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Attorneys for the Florida Legislature and voters' groups dueled fiercely over a toss-up congressional district in Miami-Dade County, as a three-day hearing into drawing new boundaries ended Monday.


read more »

Senate president nixes dissatisfied Democrats bid for lawyers

09/28/2015
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, has rejected a request by Senate Democrats for outside lawyers to represent the minority party in the upcoming remapping of Senate districts that will require Supreme Court approval. read more »

Judge to decide fate of Florida's political landscape

09/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A three-day trial that could decide the fate of Florida's political landscape ended Monday as lawyers for both sides accused each other of recommending changes to the state's 27 congressional districts that could benefit either Republicans or Democrats. read more »

Redistricting court drama resumes; Supreme Court to review next month

09/25/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Lawyers sparred over Florida's congressional districts in court Thursday, the latest episode of a three-year battle that has left the state without political boundaries for the 2016 election. read more »

Redistricting hearing focuses on dispute over South Florida districts

09/25/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The latest chapter in Florida's redistricting saga played out Thursday in a Leon County courtroom as two Miami congressional districts emerged as the heart of the differences over which of seven maps should be the one chosen by the court. read more »

Florida congressional redistricting hearing heats up

09/25/2015
Attorneys for the Legislature hotly denied Thursday that Republican legislative leaders plotted to protect GOP members of Congress and accused plaintiffs in Florida's marathon redistricting suit of being in cahoots with Democrats to rig the political boundaries. read more »

Redistricting debate: Will redrawn Miami districts encourage or suppress Hispanic voters?

09/24/2015
Armed with data, charts and expert opinions, lawyers in the trial over Florida's congressional districts sparred Friday over whether proposed maps before the court would elect or suppress Hispanic voters in Miami Dade County. read more »

Feuding lawmakers take the stand in trial over Florida's disputed congressional district map

09/24/2015
TALLAHASSEE — A trial to break a legislative impasse and decide the fate of Florida's Congressional district boundaries began Thursday, with lawyers for the dueling state House and Senate arguing in support of their chambers' respective maps. read more »

Recapping the first day of the redistricting trial: Judge may 'combine' maps

09/24/2015
The Florida judge who will play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the state's political landscape says he may craft his own proposal to sort out the mess left from squabbling over Florida's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Florida Redistricting Showdown Today in Court

09/24/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The latest round in the fight to end gerrymandering in Florida starts today with a hearing before a circuit court judge in Tallahassee. read more »

JUDGE WEIGHS ARGUMENTS AS REDISTRICTING TRIAL STARTS

09/24/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The future of Florida's congressional delegation took center stage Thursday as a hearing on competing versions of U.S. House districts began in a Tallahassee courtroom.
read more »

Congressional redistricting decision not expected before October

09/24/2015
TALLAHASSEE Sarasota County voters won't know if they will be in one congressional district or split between two districts until October. read more »

Election supervisors say new congressional maps needed by Dec. 1

09/24/2015
Facing the likelihood of revamping precinct and district boundaries, election supervisors said in a court filing this week that counties need a new congressional map by Dec. 1. read more »

Editorial: New congressional map for new politics

09/23/2015
Partisan gridlock frustrates and angers many Americans. Today, Florida has a chance to start changing that.


What could be a three-day hearing begins before Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis. At issue is the map of Florida's 27 congressional districts. In July, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature drew the new map in violation of state constitutional amendments that prohibit drawing districts to benefit a party or an incumbent. read more »

Redistricting court hearing begins in Tallahassee

09/23/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Allegations were flying in a Tallahassee courtroom Thursday as a three-day hearing into the latest congressional redistricting map began with lawyers for the Republican-led Legislature accusing challengers of drawing maps "in the dark," Congressman Dan Webster tried and failed to "get a seat at the table" and three black communities in Miami-Dade County emerged as ground zero for differences over the final map. read more »

Florida judge will try to sort out state's congressional district mess

09/23/2015
TALLAHASSEE— A Florida judge this week is going to try to sort out the political mess left due to squabbling over the state's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Hearing to finally settle Florida congressional districts set to begin

09/23/2015
TALLAHASSEE —Three years and two maps after Florida's Republican-led Legislature first came up with congressional boundaries that were supposed to last for a decade, the battle over district lines goes Thursday before a judge, who will play a key role in the so-far elusive goal of determining a final version. read more »

House looks to cast voters' groups as shills for Florida Democrats

09/22/2015
Voters' groups which successfully challenged the Legislature's congressional redistricting map won a new round this week when the Florida Supreme Court refused to order that they produce potentially damaging details on how they came up with alternate proposals for the state's 27 district boundaries. read more »

Redistricting witness lists include Tom Lee, Bill Galvano & Dem consultants; Lee: 'I have clean hands'

09/22/2015
With the House prepared to attack the Senate redistricting map in court this week, as well as the maps offered up by the challengers, the list of witnesses is getting long for the hearing before Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis that begins Thursday. read more »

JUSTICES REJECT 'DISCOVERY' REQUEST IN REDISTRICTING FIGHT

09/22/2015
THE CAPITAL - With a Leon County circuit judge ready to hear arguments Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court has rejected a request that could have shed more light on congressional redistricting maps proposed by groups that have waged a long-running legal battle against the Legislature. read more »

Legislature tells judge that map keeping Deutch, Frankel vertical falls flat

09/21/2015
Ahead of this weeks court hearing on drawing Floridas congressional district boundaries, the House and Senate have filed documents trashing an effort that mostly maintains the current configuration of Palm Beach County Democratic U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch. read more »

Florida House wants details on proposed congressional maps

09/18/2015
Lawyers for the Florida House are asking the state Supreme Court to allow them to dig deeper into the origins of proposed congressional districts submitted by organizations and voters who successfully sued to overturn a map drawn by the Legislature in 2012. read more »

Florida House redistricting lawyers want to grill Democrat map drawers

09/18/2015
The plaintiffs, a group of Democrat-leaning voters known as the Romo plaintiffs, filed a proposed map this week with Leon Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis showing an alternative to the House and Senate maps drawn by the GOP-led Legislature. read more »

Editorial: Judge should keep current District 16

09/16/2015
Maps will be on trial next week in a Tallahassee circuit court. read more »

League of Women Voters and Common Cause offer up 3 alternative Florida redistricting maps

09/15/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The plot keeps thickening Tuesday morning as another round of maps are offered up, bringing the total of options to seven for Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to choose from when he makes a recommendation for Florida's final congressional map. read more »

Florida Senate gives court two redistricting maps: Galvano compromise and original; House submits one

09/15/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate took a gamble Monday and submitted one congressional redistricting map that has never been voted on, and another that was rejected by Florida the House, as part of its official submission as ordered by the court. read more »

Maps come in for congressional redistricting challenge

09/15/2015
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will have at least seven proposed maps to sort out as he determines the best way to fix Florida's congressional district boundaries. read more »

DCCC Reviewed New Congressional Map Proposal, Says Court Filing

09/15/2015
State lawmakers and the plaintiffs in the case over congressional redistricting maps each filed their own set of maps in a Tallahassee circuit court Tuesday, bringing Florida a step closer to having a new set of maps which could radically change Florida's political landscape. read more »

Court gets 7 proposed Florida congressional district maps as Democrats weigh in

09/15/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Legislators and the challengers to Florida's congressional districts submitted seven maps Tuesday to a Tallahassee judge who must decide whether to accept modifications made to South Florida and Hillsborough County districts and whether any of the plans were drawn to protect partisans or incumbents. read more »

Our View: Legislative divide may prove costly

09/15/2015
"Can this marriage be saved?" is a long-running advice column in Ladies' Home Journal. Perhaps the appropriate equivalent for Florida political observers is, "Can this Legislature be saved?" read more »

Lawmakers File Redistricting Plans With Judge

09/15/2015
Lawmakers on Monday filed three potential maps of the state's 27 congressional districts for a Leon County judge to consider, as the deadline for turning plans into the court approached. read more »

'Fair Districts' Supporters Consulted Democrats On Maps

09/15/2015
TALLAHASSEE (NSF) - After successfully arguing that a congressional map drawn by the Legislature impermissibly favored Republicans, voting-rights groups and voters have offered four sets of proposed districts that were discussed with Democratic-leaning consultants, according to court papers filed Tuesday. read more »

Crisafulli puts kibosh on Senate's pitch for another special session on congressional map

09/09/2015
Florida's battle over congressional redistricting looks likely to be played out in the courts — not before state lawmakers — after House Speaker Steve Crisafulli rejected the Senate's latest bid for another special session. read more »

House balks at another redistricting session

09/09/2015
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Tuesday all but ruled out a special session to take another stab at drawing new districts for Florida's congressional delegation, making it increasingly likely that the task will fall to the courts. read more »

Florida Legislature should solve the redistricting issue

09/09/2015
Florida's Legislature continues to be dysfunctional, this time thanks to the unreasonable House intent on requiring Senate subservience to its will. read more »

House leader stands firm

09/08/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Chances for a second special session on congressional redistricting dimmed on Tuesday, with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli telling members the House and Senate remain at odds over changes to the map. read more »

Speaker Crisafulli: Not enough time for new congressional maps session

09/08/2015
TALLAHASSEE - House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, is prepared to present his chambers' preferred congressional districts map to a lower court, and doesn't think there's enough time to hash out a compromise with the Senate over how to redraw the districts. read more »

Florida House Speaker rejects idea of another special session

09/08/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Citing key differences in interpretation of the court's redistricting ruling, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli sent a letter to members Tuesday saying he is not interested in calling another special session on congressional redistricting unless the Senate is willing to adopt the House's map. read more »

Steve Crisafulli won't agree to another redistricting special session

09/08/2015
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says his chamber won't back down from their version of a redrawn congressional map and thus won't agree to convene another special session. read more »

Data sleuths decoded Florida's redistricting conspiracy

09/05/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The legal team that uncovered the shadow redistricting process that invalidated Florida's congressional and Senate districts didn't rely just on maps and cloak-and-dagger emails to prove that legislators broke the law. read more »

Supreme Court orders judge to sort out dispute over new maps

09/04/2015
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday ordered the trial court to return to the redistricting drawing board, allowing it to review the rival maps submitted by the House and Senate and choose between them. "That is precisely why this Court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings in which the Legislature was given the opportunity to correct the map's constitutional deficiencies". read more »

Editorial: Court should draw congressional districts

09/04/2015
Treading lightly, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday ordered a trial judge to choose between congressional district maps drawn by state lawmakers while keeping the door open for one last try by the Legislature to finish the job. That door should be slammed shut. Legislators have failed three times to draw legal congressional districts, and any map drawn by the courts will have more public confidence than one drawn by legislators who have proven they cannot be trusted. read more »

FL Supreme Court punts redistricting back to lower court

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court is ordering a trial judge to recommend which new map should be put in place for the state's 27 congressional districts, including the district of Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville). read more »

Florida Supreme Court sends redistricting case back to lower court

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court isn't drawing Florida's congressional districts — at least not yet. read more »

Just a reminder to confirm with DeBiasi if VA is interested in using up to 31,600 direct mail pieces for the purpose of recruiting

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court declined to take over congressional redistricting Friday, instead ordering a lower court to hold a hearing on proposed maps. read more »

Florida Supreme Court allows for another redistricting session, but orders trial court to take charge

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court on Friday ordered the trial court to return to the redistricting drawing board, allowing it to review the rival maps submitted by the House and Senate and choose between them. read more »

Florida Supreme Court asks judge to sort out dispute over new maps The Florida Supreme Court is ordering a trial judge to recommend which ne

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE (AP) The Florida Supreme Court is ordering a trial judge to recommend which new map should be put in place for the state's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Justices send redistricting battle to lower court

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE - After lawmakers failed last month to agree on a congressional redistricting plan, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday sent the issue back to a circuit judge who will try to piece together a map that meets constitutional requirements. read more »

Florida Supreme Court asks judge to sort out dispute over new maps

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court is ordering a trial judge to recommend which new map should be put in place for the state's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Florida Supreme Court sends redistricting case back to lower court

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court isn't drawing Florida's congressional districts — at least not yet. read more »

Congressional redistricting heads back to trial court

09/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court on Friday sent the congressional redistricting case back to the trial court, although the justices did not block the Legislature from meeting in another special session to resolve the issue. read more »

Redistricting Impasse Prompts Differing Solutions

08/31/2015
The mutual recriminations over Florida's congressional borders are hardly finished echoing in the halls of the state Capitol. But a group of Florida lawmakers want to put an end to the argument—permanently. read more »

Senator Nelson calls for independent redistricting commission for Florida

08/31/2015
The repeated failures of the Florida Legislature to redraw the state's congressional districts is a sure sign that Florida needs to create an independent commission to do the work, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said during a stop in Tallahassee on Monday. read more »

Editorial: Supreme Court should tell lawmakers times up on map-making

08/31/2015
The Florida Legislature, which has made a hash of redistricting at every turn, is now indicating that it wants more time to work out a compromise on drawing congressional districts. Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, has asked House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, for a sit-down that points to another special session, this time to consider a new, alternate map devised by Senate Redistricting chair Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. read more »

Democrats push independent commission amid redistricting mess

08/30/2015
TALLAHASSEE — With the Legislature having trouble redrawing new political districts, the job should be given to an independent commission as other states have done, Democrats argue. read more »

Challengers ask court to take over Florida's redistricting

08/27/2015
Equating the Legislature's redistricting failure to a strikeout, the challengers to the state's congressional map on Thursday called on the Florida Supreme Court to redraw the districts it invalidated and reject the Legislature's call for more time. read more »

Editorial: The wrong way to draw districts

08/27/2015
If Florida lawmakers have proven anything over the past few weeks, it's that they can't be trusted with drawing legislative districts.

After allowing a shadow redistricting process that violated the Fair Districts state constitutional amendments, the Legislature was given a second chance to get it right. read more »

Plaintiffs say Florida Supreme Court should redraw congressional districts

08/27/2015
Equating the Legislature's redistricting failure to a strike out, the coalition of voting groups that successfully challenged the state's congressional redistricting map on Thursday called on the Florida Supreme Court to draw the map and reject the Legislature's call for more time. read more »

What Do We Do Now? FL Supremes To Pick Up Pieces From Failed Session

08/26/2015
It was back to square one Tuesday, as attorneys for the Legislature and voting rights groups gathered in the same court room that sent lawmakers into special session over a year ago. Since that first revision of Florida's congressional districts some things have changed and some things are very much the same. read more »

Judge wants court direction in redistricting case

08/26/2015
A Leon County judge will ask the Florida Supreme Court how to move forward with a redistricting lawsuit after the Legislature failed to draw new congressional lines in a special session that collapsed last week. read more »

Senate given Friday deadline for redistricting response

08/26/2015
The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the state Senate until the end of the week to respond to move by the House that would allow a circuit judge to consider proposed congressional redistricting plans from both legislative chambers and other parties in a long-running lawsuit. read more »

Legislative friction sends redistricting case back to Supreme Court

08/26/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional districts. They didn't do it. Now, the state's highest court will decide whether to give them more time or to let the courts draw the districts themselves. read more »

Florida Lawmakers Head To Court After Failed Special Session

08/26/2015
Lawmakers in the Florida House headed to court Monday.


As First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross reports, it's the next step after an impasse with the Senate over how to redraw Florida's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Trial judge asks Florida Supreme Court for guidance in resolving redistricting dispute

08/26/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court now will decide the best way to resolve the impasse over Florida's redistricting maps after a trial judge said Tuesday that he "has no authority" to resolve the dispute between the House and Senate. read more »

Florida fight over congressional maps goes back to court

08/26/2015
Republican legislators have been stymied in efforts to draw districts that meet a anti-gerrymandering rule


Florida legislators, stymied in repeated efforts to draw congressional districts that meet a constitutional anti-gerrymandering rule, took their standoff before a circuit judge Tuesday. read more »

House clarifies: another congressional redistricting session is not happening

08/25/2015
Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, held a ray of hope that the comments of House attorney George Meros in court today were a signal that the House was prepared to return in special session to resolve the redistricting impasse. read more »

Redistricting hearing: Trial judge needs direction, Senate wants do-over

08/25/2015
Hope sprang eternal in the Leon County Courthouse Tuesday, with the state Senate's redistricting chair insisting there was still time for lawmakers to get together and come up with a new map for the state's 27 congressional seats. read more »

House Takes Redistricting Fight To Court

08/25/2015
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced late Monday that House lawyers asked the Florida Supreme Court to allow a Leon County judge to consider redistricting plans from the House, Senate and potentially other parties in a lawsuit that led to a ruling last month striking down eight of the state's congressional districts. read more »

Judge Doesn't Settle Bitter Dispute Over Florida's Redistricting Plan

08/25/2015
MIAMI — A Leon County judge on Tuesday postponed a decision about Florida's still incomplete congressional redistricting map after Republican legislative leaders failed to agree on how to redraw the boundaries. read more »

Judge to ask Supreme Court for remapping advice

08/25/2015
With the House and Senate at loggerheads over congressional redistricting, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis decided on Tuesday to ask the Florida Supreme Court what to do next. read more »

Judicial system should not be in control of our vote

08/24/2015
Although the impact of changes to congressional districts to Southwest Florida voters is relatively small, the fact that the state's judicial system is set to decide the fate of a proposed new map of the 27 districts should be alarming to everyone. read more »

Senators try to salvage congressional redistricting plan

08/24/2015
The Detert plan would also absorb the House's idea of keeping all of the city of Sunrise in Broward County and Riveria Beach in Palm Beach County together in the 20th Congressional district, now held by U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar. read more »

Florida Governor, House and Senate all GOP: Can't Get Along or Agree on Mandated Redistricting

08/24/2015
The Florida state Supreme Court recently ruled against state Republican gerrymandering and ordered the Florida state legislature to redraw congressional districts. There's one problem, however. The Florida GOP doesn't know how to fairly redraw the lines without giving up their district advantage, reported Politicus USA. read more »

Judge Will Ask Florida Supreme Court to Solve Map Flap

08/24/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — It looks like it's going to be up to the Florida Supreme Court to sort out what happens next in the tussle over the state's congressional districts. read more »

Oscar Braynon wants Senate to get head start on remedial redistricting

08/24/2015
Sen. Oscar Braynon penned a letter to Senate redistricting guru Jay Ferrin late last week requesting the creation of a redrawn Senate map similar to the congressional "base map" the Legislature used as a lodestar during Special Session B. read more »

Arguing Florida lawmakers agree on one thing: silence the Supreme Court

08/24/2015
Lawmakers couldn't agree on congressional redistricting but they do seem to agree on one thing: Muzzling the Florida Supreme Court. read more »

Courts to draw maps, but how will Legislature respond after redistricting debacle?

08/24/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Lawyers for the state House and Senate will be in the same Leon County courtroom Tuesday, but the jury's still out on whether they will be on the same page. read more »

Move to let court draw maps could reshape Florida politics — again

08/24/2015
r two-week redistricting session Friday without agreement on a congressional map, they acknowledged they were ready to repeat something they had done only once before in state history — turning over the complicated task of drawing maps to the courts. read more »

With redistricting in a ditch, court set to plot exit strategy

08/24/2015
With Florida lawmakers deadlocked over redrawing congressional districts, it will be up to a Leon County judge Tuesday to decide the next move in the state's bitter redistricting battle. read more »

State Senators try to salvage Florida's congressional redistricting

08/24/2015
The Florida Legislature's special session on redistricting ended in failure, but that is not stopping a pair of senators from taking one more shot at redrawing the state's 27 Congressional districts. read more »

Acting alone, House asks Supreme Court to let trial court mediate map dispute

08/24/2015
In a sign that intra-party feuding continues to divide lawmakers, Republican leaders in the Florida House today split from their brethren in the Senate and filed a motion Monday asking the Florida Supreme Court to give the trial court the authority to accept and review alternative maps for redrawing the state's congressional districts. read more »

Fred Grimm: Feigning outrage, Florida legislators slink away from their responsibilities

08/22/2015
They shirked their constitutional duties. They wasted time and gobs of taxpayer money (more than $150,000 just for food and lodging) in a two-week special session that came to naught. House and Senate members escalated their petty disagreements over congressional redistricting into a blood feud. Then, just before noon on Friday, they absconded with all the grace of WWE wrestlers, each side carping about the other legislative body's obstinate refusal to compromise. read more »

Tia Mitchell: Lessons learned from special session No. 2

08/22/2015
Special session No. 2 ended the same way the regular session did earlier this year: with drama, hard feelings and House and Senate Republicans blaming each other.

If you had asked me a couple of days ago, I would have said that there is less acrimony between the two chambers who were able to end special session No. 1 with a budget deal and smiles. Boy, was I wrong. read more »

Contempt of court in Tallahassee

08/22/2015
The Florida Legislature failed citizens again Friday when senators stormed out of a conference committee called to reconcile differing versions of a new political map for congressional districts, leading representatives to call it quits and adjourn the session. read more »

Special session shows need for an independent panel to draw lines

08/22/2015
If Florida Democrats weren't so fussy about church-state separation, the House minority caucus might post a little picture of Saint Jude in its little conference room at the Capitol. read more »

Dysfunctional Legislature blows it (again) on redistricting Well, that was special.

08/22/2015
The Florida Legislature's second special session of the year collapsed in failure after the House and Senate failed to agree on a congressional map as they'd been directed to do by the Florida Supreme Court. read more »

Legislature reaches special session impasse, no new congressional map

08/22/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators adjourned special session on Friday without coming to agreement on a new congressional map, creating a possibility that the Florida Supreme Court will draw the lines itself. read more »

Special legislative session to redraw congressional districts collapses

08/22/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A special session called to redraw state congressional lines was derailed Friday, the latest sign of growing acrimony between Republican leaders of the House and Senate. read more »

Documents reveal secret Florida Senate process to draw district maps

08/22/2015
The shadow redistricting process that brought down the congressional map also was in full swing in the state Senate's efforts to redraw its own districts in 2011 and 2012, depositions and email documents submitted as part of a court case revealed. read more »

Legislature at impasse over how to draw Florida's congressional districts

08/22/2015
A divide over how to shape Tampa Bay's congressional districts is creating uncertainty over whether the Legislature will be able to finish its job in a court-ordered special session on time.


read more »

Florida Legislature ends special session with no agreement on new congressional districts

08/22/2015
TALLAHASSEE - A special legislative session to fix Florida's flawed congressional district lines ended in chaos Friday as senators staged a walkout and the House rejected Senate requests to extend the session into a third week. read more »

Editorial: Time for courts to take over redistricting

08/22/2015
The Florida Legislature is an embarrassment to this state and its residents. The House prefers political power plays and goes home without finishing the state's business. The Senate admits it violates the Florida Constitution. And they both bash the courts, which are the last hope for Floridians who want their clear wishes carried out and congressional and legislative districts to be fairly drawn read more »

Divided Florida Legislature ends session with no new map

08/21/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature shut down its work Friday on a new congressional map, failing to follow the mandate of the state's highest court to draw new districts. read more »

FLORIDA LEGISLATURE'S EFFORTS TO DRAW NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAPS IMPLODES AS LAWMAKERS STORM OUT IN PROTEST

08/21/2015
For the second time this year, the Florida Legislature has decided to give up on the tasks it was elected to do because its members couldn't come to a consensus. read more »

Editorial: Change process for political map-making

08/21/2015
For the last two weeks, as it has redrawn the state's congressional districts to comply with a court order, the Legislature has shown why Florida needs to take political map-drawing away from the politicians. read more »

Florida Lawmakers Fail to Make Progress on Redistricting Special legislative session aimed at redrawing state's congressional map collap

08/21/2015
A special legislative session in Florida aimed at redrawing the state's congressional map collapsed Friday amid acrimony between the House and Senate, creating uncertainty for candidates ahead of the 2016 elections. read more »

Manatee congressional districts uncertain; Galvano says redistricting may be court decision

08/21/2015
Within hours after the Florida Legislature adjourned its special session Friday without agreeing on a Congressional map, state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said a court will likely have to draw the map in September. read more »

Redistricting session collapses amid acrimony

08/21/2015
Florida lawmakers on Friday conceded defeat on passing congressional district maps and are heading home after a noon deadline ended the session.

Unless the Legislature calls another special session, it will likely fall to the courts to draw the map. read more »

Judge To Redraw Florida's Congressional Maps After Legislature Fails To Reach Deal

08/21/2015
A Florida judge will draw up new maps for the state's 27 congressional districts.

After meeting in a two-week special session, Florida's House and Senate adjourned without agreeing on what the maps, ordered by the State Supreme Court, should look like read more »

Florida Legislators Fail to Agree on Congressional Districts

08/21/2015
MIAMI — Florida's House and Senate on Friday failed to agree on a new congressional map mandated by the state's Supreme Court, bringing to a futile close a legislative special session created to redraw congressional districts the court said were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. read more »

Bill Day's latest: Will Florida's redistricting monster survive?

08/20/2015

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Florida House approved a "base map" of new congressional districts by a 76-35 vote - setting the stage for yet another battle royale with the Senate. read more »

Time Running Out for Florida Lawmakers to Draw Fair Congressional Map

08/20/2015
Florida's state legislators meeting in a special session have until noon on Friday, August 21, to agree to a new map for the state's 27 congressional districts. Two court rulings - one from 2014 and one from 2015 - found fault with the legislature's congressional maps, with judges finding them to be in violation of the Fair Districts Amendment. read more »

Congressman Ross drawn out of congressional district in new Senate plan

08/20/2015
With one line on a map, state Sen. Tom Lee threw the political futures of two members of Congress into uncertainty. read more »

Redistricting chairs huddle after Senate approves map

08/20/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers took the first tentative steps Wednesday to try to bridge a gap on how to redraw the boundaries for Florida's 27 congressional districts, as the chairman of a House panel working on crafting new lines signaled he was open to a proposal approved by the Senate hours earlier. read more »

Senate passes own congressional maps, tussle with House awaits

08/20/2015
TALLAHASSEE - A day after the House passed its version of 27 congressional districts, the Senate voted 28-8 Wednesday on its own version, setting up a clash between the two chambers over the differing lines. read more »

Florida Senate passes its own congressional map, differs from Florida House

08/20/2015
The Florida Senate voted 28-8 Wednesday to pass their version of a congressional map for the state, a version that differs vastly from a map the Florida House approved Tuesday. read more »

Senate passes redistricting map with changes, setting up face-off with House

08/20/2015
The Florida Senate overwhelmingly passed a congressional redistricting plan on Wednesday, but the 12-day special session is far from over. read more »

Florida Senate passes congressional redistricting map with Tampa Bay changes

08/20/2015
The Florida Senate overwhelmingly passed a Congressional Redistricting plan on Wednesday, but the 12-day special session is far from over. read more »

With time running out, Florida Legislature has rival maps for congressional districts

08/20/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature now has two rival maps for Congress. read more »

Proposed map impacts region, places local counties in other districts

08/20/2015
The favored map currently under consideration by Florida lawmakers to redraw the state's U.S. Congressional districts will pull Suwannee and Lafayette counties into an expanded District 2 while incorporating Hamilton County into a newly redrawn east-west District 5. The proposed map would remove the three counties from District 3, currently represented by Republican Ted Yoho. read more »

Senate approves district redrawing, sends to House

08/20/2015

The Florida Senate approved its plan for redrawing Florida's congressional districts in a 28-8 vote today, sending it to the House for compromising in the final days of the special legislative session. read more »

Senate passes its own congressional district map

08/20/2015
The two chambers of the Florida Legislature are headed for a conference after the Senate approved an amended congressional map that differed from the House version passed Tuesday. read more »

House And Senate Working On A Map Bargain

08/19/2015
Wednesday was a busy day for lawmakers at the Florida Capitol. The Senate passed its draft of the state's congressional borders, House lawmakers left the door open to compromise, and Democrats argued for an independent commission when the state takes its next crack at redrawing the map. read more »

Senate Passes Different Maps

08/19/2015
The Florida Senate moved forward with a new congressional voting map Wednesday as they enter the home stretch of a special session, but as Matt Galka tells us, it sets up a two day scramble to try and end session on time. read more »

Florida House passes base congressional maps

08/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House on Tuesday approved new, Supreme Court-mandated maps of the state's 27 congressional districts, solidifying a rift with the Senate.


The map adopts district lines drawn by House and Senate staff based on the court's instructions to correct what it called unconstitutional partisan intent that would help Republicans gain control of more seats in Congress. read more »

Editorial: A better congressional district map for Tampa Bay

08/19/2015
A revised map of proposed congressional districts that the Florida Senate will consider today would make sensible improvements in the Tampa Bay area and across the west coast. The changes would enable more residents in neighboring communities to be represented by the same member of Congress, giving these districts a voice in Washington that would be stronger and more representative of the character of the area. It may be a long shot, but it is better for Tampa Bay than the base map and should be pushed by the Senate as it works with the House to agree on a new map by Friday. read more »

House passes new congressional districts

08/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida House voted 76 to 35 Tuesday in favor of new congressional districts that would significantly alter districts throughout Florida, including reshaping seats in Central Florida. read more »

Florida House OKs redistricting plan; would change District 2 A plan to redraw Florida's 27 congressional districts overwhelmingly passe

08/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE — A plan to redraw Florida's 27 congressional districts overwhelmingly passed the state House on Tuesday, inching closer to a potential faceoff with the Senate over districts in Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area. read more »

Florida House goes full Florida House on redistricting

08/19/2015
After hours of talking shit about the Florida Supreme Court, GOP lawmakers in the State House passed new maps reshaping the state's congressional districts, which is why lawmakers are in Tallahassee to begin with. read more »

Prison population affecting Florida's redistricting fight

08/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida's prison population is fast becoming a point of contention in the Legislature's attempt to redraw the state's congressional districts. read more »

Florida House passes redistricting map

08/19/2015
Amid blistering attacks on the Florida Supreme Court and the state Senate, the Florida House passed a congressional redistricting map Tuesday. read more »

Florida House Approves New Map for Congressional Districts

08/19/2015
The Republican-controlled Florida House approved new congressional districts that would upend the state's political landscape following a sharp debate Tuesday during which legislators quoted everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Bob Dylan. read more »

Florida Senate OK's congressional boundaries, looks to work with House on final deal

08/19/2015
The Florida Senate approved its version of a congressional map 28-8 Tuesday, with Redistricting Chief Bill Galvano saying he hopes soon to huddle with House counterpart, Rep. Jose Oliva, to resolve differences with that chamber. read more »

Florida Senate rejects plan to alter Miami-Dade congressional districts

08/19/2015
Florida Senator Dwight Bullard's attempt to redraw a pair of congressional districts in Miami-Dade did not get far on Wednesday.


Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, tried to change a proposed redistricting map that would shift 35,000 black voters from the 26th Congressional, represented by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, into the 27th District, which is not represented by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. read more »

Florida House blast justices but still OKs their U.S. House map

08/18/2015
TALLAHASSEE —The Florida House approved congressional boundaries Tuesday intended to meet the state Supreme Court's directions, but leaders still face dealing

with the Senate before settling on a new map. read more »

TALLAHASSEE — With three days left in a special legislative session to redraw Florida's congressional districts, two differen

08/18/2015
The Florida Senate is expected today to consider a bill that would keep all of Sarasota County, and nearly all of Manatee, in the same congressional district. Let's hope Senate Bill 2B is approved, and then prevails over the redistricting plan passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives. read more »

Tom Lee says change in Congress map not meant for him

08/18/2015
TALLAHASSEE — With three days left in a special legislative session to redraw Florida's congressional districts, two different maps are now on a collision course.

By a 76-35 vote, the Florida House on Tuesday passed a map that, among other things, keeps the southern half of eastern Hillsborough County in the 16th District, now held by Republican Vern Buchanan. read more »

House, Senate advance differing redistricting plans

08/17/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The issue of splitting Sarasota County into two congressional districts remained unresolved Monday, as the Senate and House advanced differing special session plans on redrawing Florida's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Romano: In Florida, cheaters (your legislators) still want to prosper

08/17/2015
Every once in a while, legislators get so wrapped up in their own hubris that they drop their guard and reveal just how little they actually care about you.

Or, to put it another way, welcome to the great redistricting fiasco of 2015. read more »

St. Johns County officials to Florida legislators: Keep the county whole

08/16/2015
As a new congressional districts map evolves in the Florida Legislature, local officials are concerned that St. Johns County's district could be split and its congressional representation will weaken. read more »

What's the difference between a nursery full of cranky babies and the Florida Legislature?

08/16/2015
There's less whining in the nursery.

Truly, Tallahassee became Tantrumhassee last week as Democrats and Republicans united to throw bipartisan hissy fits. read more »

New boundaries for Corrine Brown district highlight conflict between federal protections, state anti-gerrymandering law

08/16/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Of eight congressional districts the Florida Supreme Court required the Legislature to fix, none is more controversial than U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's District 5. read more »

Redistricting karma in Florida for Democrat Brown, Republican Webster?

08/16/2015
When veteran U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat, and Daniel Webster, an Orlando Republican, came to the state Capitol last week and blasted the latest proposed congressional boundaries, they were really talking about a political wave poised to sweep across Florida read more »

Is a politically unbiased map possible for Florida?

08/15/2015
As Florida legislators struggled last week to draw a congressional district map that meets a court mandate, it became clear that what they would end up with would be far from perfect. read more »

Map of Miami congressional district is still a problem, voting groups warn

08/14/2015
TALLAHASSEE - A coalition of voting groups sent a warning shot to Florida lawmakers Friday, claiming that their proposal for revising Miami-Dade's most competitive congressional district appears to have been designed to boost the chances of freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. read more »

Groups that sued Legislature criticize how new congressional map treats South Florida

08/14/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Two organizations that successfully sued the Florida Legislature over the state's congressional map contended Friday that Republicans were plotting to help a freshman GOP congressman save his seat. read more »

Voting-Rights Groups Slam Proposed South Florida District

08/14/2015
TALLAHASSEE (NSF) - A pair of voting-rights groups whose lawsuit led to the state's current congressional districts being struck down by the Florida Supreme Court say that a new proposal appears to be tilted to favor a Republican congressman in South Florida. read more »

Florida House panel OKs congressional map despite criticism

08/14/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Despite sharp criticism from a Florida congresswoman that it would disenfranchise black voters, the Florida House is moving ahead with a substantial overhaul of the state's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Florida House passes congressional map; Senate ponders changes

08/14/2015
The battle over boundaries for Florida's 27 congressional districts began in earnest Thursday, with a state House committee approving a plan while senators considered overhauling the same proposal — and as a congresswoman continued pressing her case that the map would harm black voters. read more »

House panel throws out proposal to revert to old Congressional district maps

08/14/2015
It didn't take long for the House's redistricting panel on Thursday to do away with Rep.Mike Hill's plan to revert Florida's congressional districts to the thrown-out map lawmakers drew in 2012. read more »

Florida redistricting fight shows conflict between regular district lines and the Voting Rights Act

08/14/2015
The Florida legislature is currently redrawing the boundaries of the state's 27 congressional districts in response to a state Supreme Court decision ruling that the current districting plan, in effect for the 2012 and 2014 elections, violates a voter-passed constitutional requirement that districts adhere as much as possible to county and municipal boundaries. This has been widely taken as a criticism of partisan districting by Republicans who have held majorities in both houses of the state legislature for more than 10 years. read more »

Sunburn

08/14/2015
Members of the Florida House's redistricting panel on Thursday approved a new congressional district map without making any changes. read more »

Florida House approves new congressional districts map despite criticism

08/14/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Despite sharp criticism from a Florida congresswoman that it would disenfranchise black voters, the Florida House is moving ahead with a substantial overhaul of the state's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Legislators' cries on redistricting ring hollow

08/14/2015
The Republicans who run the Legislature are in a foul mood. Not only have they had to stumble back to Tallahassee in the heat of August, they have to deal once again with that pesky redistricting problem, a chore they thought they settled twice already, in 2012 and again in 2014. read more »

South Florida leaders resist congressional district changes

08/13/2015
A reconfiguration of congressional districts being sold as a way to improve representation in Broward and Palm Beach counties would actually hurt South Florida, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said Wednesday in urging a bipartisan effort to work against the proposed changes. read more »

Florida lawmakers resist tinkering with proposed congressional district lines

08/13/2015
State lawmakers delved into the trenches Thursday in a battle over how to redraw congressional district lines to comply with a Florida Supreme Court mandate, and it wasn't pretty. read more »

INTERSECTION: REDISTRICTING 101

08/13/2015
State lawmakers are back in Tallahassee this week. They'll have another go at drawing up congressional maps after the Florida Supreme Court ruled 8 of the 27 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. read more »

Florida Legislators Deny Gerrymandering As They Slouch Back to the Drawing Board

08/13/2015
In 2010, 63 percent of Florida voters approved a "Fair Districts" amendment to the state constitution designed to end the partisan dirty pool that is as old as Congress itself — the gerrymandering of congressional boundaries to favor one party over the other. Patrick Henry tried it first in Virginia in 1788, having lines drawn to block James Madison from a congressional seat, but Madison prevailed before the voters. read more »

Brown offers fiery rhetoric, but no data, for claims on new district

08/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE—Fighting to save her congressional district, Rep. Corrine Brown publicly addressed two state legislative committees on Thursday and predicted the new seat drawn by legislators will disenfranchise minorities. read more »

As redistricting heats up, Central Florida at heart of battle

08/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Central Florida's congressional districts are essentially caught in a virtual tug of war between state lawmakers and the Florida Supreme Court. read more »

Republican influence could shrink in New District 10

08/13/2015
As the Florida Legislature debates new congressional districts to comply with the state Supreme Court's court ruling, one district in Central Florida could see a major shift read more »

Three takeaways from the special session

08/13/2015
No meetings are scheduled for today as legislators race to beat a 6 p.m. deadline to propose changes to the base redistricting map that could get its first votes on Thursday. read more »

Early observations from redistricting special session

08/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The shifting lines of Florida's congressional districts could spice up campaigns and signal the end of political careers for veterans and rising stars alike. read more »

Florida congresswoman tries to block changes to district

08/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida congresswoman is asking a federal judge to block state lawmakers from changing her congressional district.


U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown filed a lawsuit Wednesday in a Tallahassee federal court against the Florida Legislature and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. read more »

Lawmakers offer flurry of amendments to proposed congressional districts map

08/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE - After days of listening to how their staff redrew Florida's 27 congressional districts in relative seclusion, state legislators Wednesday started taking their own turn at re-mapping the state. read more »

Battle lines: Tensions flare as Florida lawmakers weigh new map

08/13/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers intensified their criticism of the Florida Supreme Court's redistricting ruling Tuesday as a Republican congressman fought for his political survival and a Democratic congresswoman announced she would file a lawsuit Wednesday to keep her current district. read more »

Wednesday's letters: Blame lawmakers for redistricting mess Lawmakers are to blame

08/12/2015
Back when Florida legislators were pretending to seek input from their constituents about how congressional and legislative districts should be drawn, I was one of many who testified we wanted maps drawn as required by the Fair Districts Amendments. I will admit to being angry, accusing them of taking care of Republican incumbents and ignoring those they claimed to represent. read more »

Editorial: Lawmakers whine about the courts, sunshine

08/12/2015
The hot air is not just outside the state Capitol in Tallahassee. There is plenty of it inside, where Republican legislators are fuming about the audacity of the Florida Supreme Court to force them to redraw congressional districts as the state Constitution requires. They complain their constitutional rights are being violated, they are being forced to keep public records of their conversations and documents, and their hands are being tied in the way the districts are redrawn. read more »

First senator makes bid to amend proposed redistricting maps

08/12/2015
Sarasota County would be whole again and U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney would continue to represent much of southern Hillsborough County under a proposed redistrict map amended state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, has proposed. read more »

Florida's legislators forced to behave, crying about it

08/12/2015
Here's a simple question to ponder. Suppose you found yourself sitting next to a member of the Florida Legislature in a saloon. Would you feel comfortable leaving your bar change unattended within arm's reach of one of our elected officials if nature suddenly called?


Scary thought, isn't it? read more »

Amendments To Redistricting Plan Revealed

08/12/2015
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Amendments to a proposed map of Florida's congressional districts were revealed Wednesday, just a day before hearings in the House and Senate on the matter.


They are meeting to discuss how to comply with a court order finding the current map violates the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" requirements. read more »

Resentful legislators fire back at Florida Supreme Court redistricting ruling

08/12/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers intensified their criticism of the Florida Supreme Court's redistricting ruling Tuesday as a Republican congressman fought for his political survival and a Democratic congresswoman announced she would file a lawsuit Wednesday to keep her current district. read more »

GOP Opens Special Session With Complaints That Fair Districts Infringe on Free Speech

08/11/2015
Senators scolded the Florida Supreme Court for trampling on their First Amendment rights as lawmakers began a special session Monday aimed at redrawing congressional districts the court said were gerrymandered to help the Republican Party.

The special session will mark the third time the Legislature will attempt to craft a map for the state's U.S. House delegation under the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010. The lines were initially drawn in 2012 as part of the state's once-a-decade redistricting process, then again last year after a lower court struck down the first map. read more »

Editorial: Enough with the 'bad faith' politics, draw fair districts

08/11/2015
Few words are more likely to put readers to sleep than "redistricting," "reapportionment" and "gerrymandering."


So in the interest of keeping all of you awake, let's call this subject what it is: politicians cheating on a grand scale. read more »

Lots of sniping, little hope for changing Florida redistricting plan

08/11/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Republican lawmakers sniped Tuesday at the Florida Supreme Court for rejecting the Legislature's congressional redistricting map, but appear likely to follow justices' approach to fixing troubled boundaries. read more »

Legislators take verbal shots at state Supreme Court over redistricting ruling

08/11/2015
Florida lawmakers intensified their criticism of the Florida Supreme Court's redistricting ruling Tuesday as a Republican congressman fought for his political survival and a Democratic congresswoman announced she would file a lawsuit Wednesday to keep her current district. read more »

Lawmakers to try again on Congressional redistricting

08/10/2015
Perhaps, as a critic of the Legislature's first two drafts of congressional districts has said, the third time will be the charm

Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to once again draw a map for each of Florida's 27 congressional seats. It is a drama being watched in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., as shifting lines just a few miles in one direction or another could decide the futures of several members of the state's U.S. House delegation. read more »

The shape of things to come: For Palm Beach County districts, horizontal may be the new vertical

08/10/2015
The shapes of three of Palm Beach County's four congressional districts would change dramatically under the first proposal Florida legislators will consider when they convene today for a third attempt at drawing congressional boundaries that meet court approval. read more »

Two dozen no-shows expected as Florida Legislature returns to work

08/10/2015
The Florida Legislature's special session on congressional redistricting begins Monday with brief floor sessions in both houses. Two dozen lawmakers have asked to be excused from the opening day of the two-week gathering. read more »

Special session on congressional lines starts today

08/10/2015
Lawmakers kick off their special session today — their second of the year — to redraw congressional maps found by the Florida Supreme Court to have been gerrymandered in favor of the GOP. read more »

Florida Begins Third Attempt to Redraw Congressional Map Legislators convene a 12-day special session to meet state Supreme Court requiremen

08/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, still angry at being forced into action by the states highest court, launched yet another bid on Monday to reshape the states congressional districts. read more »

OUR VIEW: Fair District: New 6th boon to Volusia, Flagler

08/08/2015
The Florida Legislature convenes Monday for a special session with one task: Comply with a state Supreme Court order to redraw congressional districts that violate Florida's Constitution. The court last month ruled that the current map violates the state's Fair Districts amendments. read more »

New congressional lines causing political upheaval

08/07/2015
When lawmakers return to Tallahassee on Monday, they'll do more than redraw congressional districts found unconstitutional last month by the Florida Supreme Court. read more »

Cost of special sessions continues to add up for Florida taxpayers

08/07/2015
I heard recently from a Times-Union reader who had a question: How much money will a special session cost Florida taxpayers?

Well, he didn't quite say it like that. "How much does this tomfoolery cost the taxpayer in extra sessions time?" he said on my voicemail. read more »

Legislature gets another chance to take politics out of politics

08/07/2015
More than 60 years have passed since Gov. LeRoy Collins, in his first legislative address, asked the Florida House and Senate to draw political boundaries based on people, not politicians.


"The apportionment of representation in theLegislature is grossly unsound and unfair, and brings about a situation whereby hundreds of thousands of our citizens are relegated to an inferior class," Collins said. read more »

Rep. Corrine Brown Goes To Court To Protect Congressional District

08/07/2015
Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown went to federal court Thursday to try to block a proposal that would radically redraw her district, complicating the legal fight over the state's congressional map days before a special legislative session on the topic is set to begin. read more »

Florida Republicans Last Ditch Effort To Preserve Gerrymandered Districts

08/07/2015
Two Florida Republican Party chairman filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday claiming the state's redistricting law, which prohibits lawmakers from drawing districts that favor a certain party, violates their First Amendment right to free speech and constitutes "government thought policing." read more »

Editorial: Legislature's last chance to get congressional districts right

08/07/2015
The third time had better be the charm for the Florida Legislature this week as it opens a two-week special session to redraw congressional districts. The redistricting assignment should be taken over by the courts if lawmakers again fail to draw districts that meet constitutional requirements that the lines be drawn without favoring political parties or incumbents. If legislators finally comply with the Fair Districts amendments voters approved five years ago, the result should be more competitive districts and a more balanced congressional delegation that more closely reflects the divided electorate. read more »

Guest column: Public may comment on redistricting

08/06/2015
The Florida Legislature, in response to a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling, will gather in Tallahassee from Monday to Aug. 21 to redraw Florida's congressional district boundaries. read more »

Do we trust we'll get fair districts this fall?

08/06/2015

How many state legislators hold law degrees?

Was there no legislator in Tallahassee who could understand that their redistricting map was unconstitutional? So now the Senate concedes that it violated the Florida Constitution. Six years later, have these lawmakers just now experienced an epiphany? read more »

Florida congressional maps being redrawn in private

08/06/2015
Florida legislative staffers are in the process of redrawing the state's congressional district map, a task assigned by Republican leaders in advance of a redistricting special session that begins August 10. read more »

Voting Groups Call for FL Special Session on Redistricting to Be Open to Public

08/05/2015
A special session begins Monday for Florida lawmakers to re-draw congressional districts which were deemed unconstitutional. Now, two voting rights groups are demanding these meetings be open to the public.


read more »

Florida GOP reschedules Sunshine Summit for after redistricting special session

08/05/2015
Presidential candidates are being summoned to a November Sunshine Summit put on by the Republican Party of Florida. read more »

GOP suit: Florida redistricting law equals thought policing

08/05/2015
Two Florida Republican Party officials have filed a federal lawsuit to block the state's anti-gerrymandering constitutional clauses, arguing the provisions limit First Amendment speech and amount to "thought policing." read more »

Florida's never-ending story on redistricting, cont'd: Senate admits violating constitution

08/01/2015
Yep, we're guilty, the Florida Senate says: our districts are unconstitutional. read more »

Senate wise to drop redistricting court fight

08/01/2015
More jaw-dropping and political landscape-changing redistricting news has emerged — this time affecting the Florida Senate maps. What's stunning is the Senate admitted fault and entered into an agreement to revise the Senate maps and forgo a trial. read more »

Another Round of Redistricting: Florida at Forefront Of District Movement

08/01/2015
Since 2008, Florida has exhibited the political equivalent of a split personality, with a Democratic president twice winning the state even as Republicans racked up huge majorities in the Legislature and congressional delegation. read more »

Florida Legislature will return to redraw Senate maps

07/31/2015
Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the Legislature's decision to move forward with an August special session to redraw the congressional map would not preclude someone challenging the Florida court's decision. read more »

Senate must fix its map-making mess

07/31/2015
The Florida Senate pleaded guilty this week to a political crime. The admission will cause heartburn in the 2016 elections, but will benefit the public. read more »

GOP lawmaker: Subpoena Florida Supreme Court justices in redistricting battle

07/31/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola Beach, is not too pleased with the Florida Supreme Court's decision to throw out congressional districts drawn by the Legislature, specifically ruling eight districts out of compliance with the constitution. read more »

Drumbeat begins to keep Leon County whole

07/30/2015
A move to keep Leon County whole in congressional redistricting got some bipartisan support on Wednesday. read more »

Editorial: The redistricting disgrace

07/30/2015
Give the Florida Senate's leadership a small measure of credit for finally giving up on the farcical stance that its 2012 redistricting maps were not designed specifically to keep the ruling party in power. read more »

In wake of redistricting situation, Sarasota's Greg Steube contemplates future

07/30/2015
The president of the Lakewood Ranch Republican Club, Steve Vernon, has become the second candidate to file for Sarasota state Rep. Greg Steube's House seat in 2016, as reported by the Bradenton Herald. read more »

Negron, Abruzzo, Clemens seats could change in FL Senate redistricting

07/30/2015
After reaching an agreement this week with voting-rights groups, Florida lawmakers face the chore of going into special session in October to redraw Senate districts.


But the agreement with the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause Florida and others that legally challenged the Senate's current map doesn't list the districts that have to be changed. And the opponents' objections have encompassed 28 districts — fully 70 percent of the districts represented in the 40-member Senate.


read more »

No Clear Roadmap Yet On Senate Districts

07/30/2015
After reaching an agreement this week with voting-rights groups, Florida lawmakers face the chore of going into special session in October to redraw Senate districts.

But the agreement with the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause Florida and others that legally challenged the Senate's current map doesn't list the districts that have to be changed. And the opponents' objections have encompassed 28 districts — fully 70 percent of the districts represented in the 40-member Senate. read more »

This time, get the map right

07/29/2015
Put this in the win column for Sunshine State voters and taxpayers: The Florida Senate saw the handwriting on the wall and decided this week to give up the fight over redistricting. read more »

Florida Senate concedes legal battle, sets special session to redraw districts

07/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE — After spending nearly three years and millions of dollars defending its redistricting maps, the Florida Senate gave up the fight Tuesday as it conceded for the first time that the courts were going to find it violated the state Constitution. read more »

FL Senate admits to redistricting corruption oops

07/28/2015
The League of Women Voters of Florida is applauding Florida Senators' admission that they indeed drew Senate districts to Republicans' advantage despite a constitutional amendment barring such a practice, #sorrynotsorry. read more »

Legislature to convene to draw up new Senate lines Oct. 19-Nov. 6

07/28/2015
Although the Florida Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legality of state Senate districts that a coalition of groups contend were drawn unconstitutionally in 2012, Florida's political leaders said today that the court's ruling earlier this month to invalidate eight of the state's 27 congressional districts guarantees that they will have to redraw state Senate lines before next year's elections. read more »

Fla Senate broke law, will redraw districts

07/28/2015
The Republican-led Florida Senate admitted in a court filing on Tuesday that unnamed senators had violated the state Constitution by gerrymandering some districts, and now say they will be redrawn in a special session later this year. read more »

Lawmakers set special session set to draw state Senate districts

07/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE — A lawsuit over the boundaries of Florida's state Senate maps was settled Tuesday with lawmakers agreeing to hold a special session Oct. 19-Nov. 6 - the third such session this year - to redraw the political maps. read more »

Lawmakers to redraw state Senate districts, too

07/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Already poised to redraw congressional districts next month, legislative leaders announced Tuesday they will convene again from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6 to reshape state Senate districts. read more »

Florida Legislature will return in October to redraw Senate districts

07/28/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Legislative leaders announced Tuesday they will hold a special session to redraw the state's 40 Senate districts after the chamber acknowledged it violated the state constitution by creating maps that benefit Republicans and incumbents. read more »

Legislature sets special session for October to redraw Florida Senate districts

07/28/2015
The Florida Legislature has set yet another special session, this time for October to redraw the Florida Senate district lines that opponents had argued violated the state constitution prohibition on gerrymandering to favor or disfavor politicians. read more »

Florida lawmakers agree to redraw Senate districts in a second special session

07/28/2015
Florida legislative leaders today agreed to a second special session on redistricting that will start in mid October and involve the redrawing of district lines for the 40 state Senate seats that were being challenged in a lawsuit. read more »

SENATE ADMITS DISTRICTS UNCONSTITUTIONAL MAP WILL BE REDRAWN

07/28/2015
In what one critic of the Legislature called an unprecedented admission, the Florida Senate conceded Tuesday that the chamber's districts are unconstitutional and should be redrawn in a special session beginning in October. read more »

How Will Redrawing Congressional Districts Affect the 2016 Election?

07/27/2015
Our Election Fever blogger weighs in. read more »

State Senate races likely to face fallout of redistricting

07/25/2015
Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, Florida legislators are feeling the tremors of the Florida Supreme Court's redistricting ruling on their own districts — particularly in the state Senate. read more »

The answer to redistricting headache — Florida Lottery

07/22/2015
Now that the Florida Supreme Court has slapped down the redistricting plan adopted by the Florida Legislature, it's time to get the third branch of government involved in a fair solution. read more »

Editorial: Redistricting may hit close to home

07/21/2015
The Florida Supreme Court ruled last month that the Republican-drawn redistricting map is unfair and gave legislators 100 days to redraw the districts and make things right.

The court ruled that the redistricting process following the 2010 census did not conform to Florida's Fair Districts Constitutional Amendment. read more »

Florida Legislature to redraw congressional lines in August

07/21/2015
Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature, dealing with the fallout of a sharply critical decision by the state's highest court, will hold a nearly two-week special session in August to draw up new congressional districts. read more »

SIDES AGREE ON SEPTEMBER COURT DATE IN REDISTRICTING FIGHT

07/21/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Legislature and a coalition that successfully challenged the state's congressional districts have agreed to a schedule for a Leon County judge to determine whether lawmakers' second attempt to draw a map complies with the state Constitution. read more »

Florida legislators headed back to work in August for redistricting special session

07/20/2015
August will be back-to-Tallahassee time for state lawmakers. read more »

Florida lawmakers set August dates for redrawing U.S. House districts

07/20/2015
TALLAHASSEE —Florida House and Senate leaders Monday called a 12-day special session beginning Aug. 10 to redraw congressional boundaries thrown out this month by the state Supreme Court. read more »

Court order to redraw St. Pete's 13th District gives Democrats a chance

07/19/2015
ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Supreme Court's order to redraw the 13th Congressional District has energized Pinellas County Democrats, who see their best chance at capturing that seat since Republican Bill Young won it in 1970. read more »

Florida pols claim legislative paralysis over redistricting requirement

07/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida's redistricting dilemma grew more complicated Friday as members of the state's congressional delegation asked for statewide hearings and a top state senator warned the court ruling invalidating the congressional map had led to legislative paralysis. read more »

Congressional-redistricting edict roils Florida politics

07/19/2015
TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Supreme Court ruling last week throwing out congressional maps means districts are less safe for incumbents and the political ground less sure for both major parties, analysts say. read more »

Florida Redistricting Ruling Shakes Up Legislature

07/18/2015
The recent bombshell Florida Supreme Court ruling tossing out eight congressional districts as unconstitutional may be just the beginning of an unprecedented political shake-up, with many observers predicting a similar outcome in a lawsuit challenging state Senate districts. read more »

The cost to Florida taxpayers for failed redistricting maps? $8.1 million, and counting

07/18/2015
According to the latest tally by the Florida House and Senate, the cost to taxpayers for the Legislature's defense of the redistricting maps that the Florida Supreme Court ruled invalid last week is $8.1 million. read more »

Column: Redistricting for Dummies: How to End the Gerrymander

07/18/2015
Every ten years, based on the latest census data, the states receive new apportionments of seats in the US House of Representatives. The state legislatures begin mapping out revised districts to accommodate changes in population, population distribution, and increases or decreases in the number of seats. read more »

Prevent Florida politicians from picking their voters

07/18/2015
Time after time, the Florida Legislature has ignored direct orders from the public. Last week, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to obey the most important order in recent years. read more »

Fabiola Santiago: Florida Supreme Court ruling on redistricting a return to the rule of law

07/17/2015
As scandalous as it has been in Florida, redistricting isn't sexy enough for modern times, a blemish that condemns an issue to obscurity. read more »

Trial court breaks silence on Florida redistricting schedule — orders Sept. 25 deadline

07/17/2015
A Tallahassee judge broke the latest logjam over the future of the state's congressional maps Wednesday and ordered the Florida Legislature to finish its maps — and subsequent trial to defend it — by Sept. 25. read more »

Crisafulli rejects call for traveling hearings on redistricting; Lee says process is in paralysis

07/17/2015
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said no Friday to the request from members of the state's congressional delegation to conduct public hearings around the state on redistricting before a special session. read more »

Legislature rejects congressional request for redistricting hearings

07/17/2015
Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli turned down a request Friday from 15 members of Congress to hold statewide public hearings before the Legislature draws new congressional districts. read more »

Redistricting Hearings Requested, Turned Down

07/17/2015
TALLAHASSEE (NSF) Facing political uncertainty after a Supreme Court ruling, 15 U.S. House members sent a letter this week to Florida legislative leaders calling for redistricting hearings across the state. read more »

Legislature cancels handful of redistricting depositions

07/17/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Attorneys representing the Florida Legislature in a lawsuit over state Senate maps have canceled a scheduled deposition for an official at the heart of the 2012 redistricting fight, and attempts to find deposition dates for other top Democrats have been halted. read more »

Legislature seeks delay in Senate redistricting trial

07/17/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Attorneys for the Legislature plan to ask a Tallahassee judge to delay a legal challenge to the state Senate maps, in part because lawmakers are currently redrawing congressional maps that were ruled unconstitutional last week. read more »

REDISTRICTING HEARINGS REQUESTED, TURNED DOWN

07/17/2015
Facing political uncertainty after a Supreme Court ruling, 15 U.S. House members sent a letter this week to Florida legislative leaders calling for redistricting hearings across the state. read more »

With options limited, Florida legislators remain silent about redistricting plans

07/16/2015
TALLAHASSEE — Uncertainty continued to reign in Florida's political world Friday, a day after the state Supreme Court declared Florida's congressional map invalid and ordered up a remedy by Oct. 17. read more »

Redistricting could mean a shakeup in Florida's political landscape

07/16/2015
St. Petersburg, Florida - There could there be a shakeup in Florida's political landscape for campaign 2016 thanks to redistricting that's after a historic ruling by Florida's Supreme Court. It tosses out the state's carefully crafted congressional districts and calls for a new map. It could be a big win for some politicians and force others to seek new jobs. read more »

Dockery: Consider independent redistricting panel

07/16/2015
The recent Florida Supreme Court decision was a big win for fair districts, which makes it a big win for Florida voters. read more »

Depositions show Florida GOP push for favorable Senate lines Consultants drew maps, recruited advocates for public hearings

07/16/2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida G.O.P. officials coordinated with Republican political consultants in an effort to quietly push for favorable state Senate maps, according to depositions and court documents. read more »

Florida Redistricting Court tossed the Monopoly board

07/16/2015
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled the state's congressional maps don't meet requirements of a voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting political lines drawn to favor incumbents or political parties. The court ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps read more »

Highest court must settle redistricting

07/15/2015
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court ruled congressional maps drawn by the Legislature following the 2010 census resulted in political gerrymandering, and thereby were unconstitutional. The justices ordered new districts be created within 100 days. read more »

10 big questions facing Florida politics in the wake of the redistricting decision

07/14/2015
As has been widely reported, the Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that the states congressional maps dont meet the requirements of a voter-approved constitutional amendment that prohibits political lines from being drawn to favor incumbents or a political party. The court ordered the Legislature to try drawing the maps again. read more »

In redistricting special session, will Legislature take up the state Senate map, too?

07/14/2015
The ink was not even dry on the Florida Supreme Courts landmark redistricting decision instructing state legislators to redraw Floridas congressional districts before it was being suggested that the Legislature also revisit the map of the state Senate districts. read more »

Democratic Florida Lawmakers Call For End To Redistricting 'Skullduggery'

07/14/2015
Republican legislative leaders, who have been huddling with staff and counsel, continue to offer little comment publicly as they decide how to respond to a Florida Supreme Court ruling last week that eight congressional districts must be redrawn. read more »

These Fla state Sens. can probably kiss their districts goodbye

07/13/2015
With the Florida Supreme Court barring congressional districts from extending over waterways — as Castor's extends over Tampa Bay from Hillsborough to Pinellas — it's fair to assume some Tampa Bay state Senate districts will be thrown into uncertainty as well. read more »

Cruz admonishes House to conduct all meetings on redistricting in open

07/13/2015
As Florida legislators and their staff continue to meet in private to discuss when to hold a special session to rewrite the congressional maps, House Democratic Leader designateJanet Cruz has sent a letter of admonishment reminding them that every meeting — including those with the private attorneys whose fees are paid by taxpayers — should be done in public. read more »

Our opinion: Time for fair districts

07/12/2015
Suppose you had a big cake pan shaped exactly like the state of Florida and 27 lumps of dough of precisely the same size.

You could wedge them together - some segments long and skinny to link coastal communities, others thick and compact to cover big cities, some rolled flat as a pizza to span broad areas of scant population, and some split in two or three hunks to cluster around Lake Okeechobee or the Everglades. That would make sense, if you had no intention of favoring one part over another. read more »

Florida judge rejects delay of trial over state Senate districts

07/11/2015
TALLAHASSEE — A week after the Florida Supreme Court overturned the state's congressional boundaries, a Leon County judge Friday began balancing the impact of that ruling on a looming challenge to state Senate districts. read more »

Romano: Time to take map drawing privileges away from legislators

07/11/2015
Follow the time line here:

1. Voters tell lawmakers not to cheat.

2. Lawmakers swear they won't.

3. The Florida Supreme Court says they did. read more »

Congressional Redistricting: Take Three

07/10/2015
A special legislative session will be in the works again after Thursday's congressional map redistricting decision by the Florida Supreme Court. The resulting outcomes of changing the gerrymandered maps for the second time - could affect Florida's current congressional districts in a big way. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Says Illegal Maps Contradicted Public Will

07/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE— In a strongly worded opinion, Florida's highest court told lawmakers they did not follow the public's will in re-drawing the state's congressional districts.

But the decision is a victory for voters read more »

It's Back To The Drawing Board For Florida's District Maps

07/10/2015
Florida is a state with nearly a half million more registered Democrats than Republicans. You wouldn't know it, though, from the state's seats in Congress — 17 of the 27 congressional seats are held by Republicans. read more »

Legislature ordered to redraw South Florida congressional districts

07/10/2015
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state legislature to redraw some congressional districts in time for the 2016 election, a move that will have a large impact on South Florida. read more »

Florida Supreme Court rejects congressional districts; orders Legislature to redraw maps

07/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Supreme Court has ordered state lawmakers to redraw eight of the state's congressional districts, including one in Southwest Florida, saying the most recent redistricting process was "tainted by unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbents." read more »

Congressional map to be redrawn

07/10/2015
In a land mark ruling Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the congressional map must be redrawn to eliminate partisan bias in eight districts. read more »

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT RULES EIGHT CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS WERE DRAWN UNCONSTITUTIONALLY

07/10/2015
Have you ever wondered how Florida — despite having more Democratic voters than Republicans, sending Obama to the White House in the past two presidential cycles, and seeing razor-close gubernatorial elections — has somehow sent 17 Republicans and only ten Democrats to the House? It just doesn't make sense, does it? Well, gerrymandering has a lot to do with it. read more »

Editorial: Supreme Court redistricting ruling a smackdown for hyper-partisan Legislature

07/10/2015
All of the secrecy and back-room dealing that marked the state Legislature's sordid redistricting process has come undone with a Florida Supreme Court ruling Thursday. read more »

Editorial: Court's ruling a victory for voters

07/10/2015
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday put the law and democracy ahead of partisan gamesmanship by striking down the state's congressional maps. By ordering that eight districts across the state be redrawn, including two in the Tampa Bay area, the court delivered a blow against entrenched incumbents and special interests and laid the foundation for fairer elections with truly representative results. To follow up on its sharp rebuke, the court must now ensure the Florida Legislature complies with both the letter and spirit of the order. read more »

What they're saying about Florida's redistricting ruling

07/10/2015
Reaction to Thursday's Florida Supreme Court ruling from some of the members of Congress who will be affected by new maps and the state lawmakers responsible for drawing them. read more »

Florida Supreme Court strikes down congressional district map

07/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE —The political boundaries of districts held by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch, both Palm Beach County Democrats, are among eight congressional seats the Florida Supreme Court ordered redrawn Thursday in a sweeping ruling. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Orders Redrawing of Districts

07/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The Florida Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state's congressional maps don't meet the requirements of a voter-approved constitutional amendment that prohibits political lines from being drawn to favor incumbents or a political party. The court ordered the Legislature to try drawing the maps again. read more »

Editorial: On redistricting: Try, try again

07/10/2015
The Florida Supreme Court has overwhelmingly upheld a trial court's ruling that the Florida Legislature's congressional reapportionment plan violated the state constitution's prohibition against using "partisan intent." read more »

State Supreme Court strikes down congressional districts

07/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE -A bitterly divided Florida Supreme Court threw out eight congressional districts Thursday in a long-awaited ruling, ordering the Legislature to redraw the lines within the next 100 days. read more »

State Supreme Court ruling shakes up Florida's political landscape

07/10/2015
The Florida Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to Florida's political landscape Thursday, throwing out the state's carefully crafted congressional districts drawn by the GOP-led Legislature and ordering a new map within 100 days. read more »

Florida Supreme Court orders new congressional map with eight districts to be redrawn

07/10/2015
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court took a wrecking ball to Florida's political landscape Thursday, throwing out the state's carefully crafted congressional districts drawn by the GOP-led Legislature and ordering a new map within 100 days. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Throws Out Congressional Maps

07/09/2015
In a strongly worded opinion, the state's highest court told lawmakers they did not follow the publics will in redrawing the state's congressional districts. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the decision is a victory for voters. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Orders Redrawing of Some Constitutionally Invalid

07/09/2015
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the redrawing of some of the state's U.S. congressional districts before the 2016 elections. read more »

Florida justices order new congressional districts for 2016

07/09/2015
TALLAHASSEE — In a landmark ruling that could change the way congressional and legislative district lines are drawn in the nation's third-largest state, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday ordered state lawmakers to redraw boundaries for eight of Florida's 27 congressional districts. read more »

Justices to wade into Florida's redistricting fight

03/04/2015
The Florida Legislature's 2012 redrawing of congressional districts goes before the state Supreme Court today for arguments that could have a dramatic effect on the state's upcoming political year. read more »

Florida Supreme Court hears one more challenge to congressional district maps

03/04/2015
TALLAHASSEE - Florida's congressional redistricting maps should be rejected because they are the product of a shadowy process infiltrated by Republican political operatives in violation of the law against partisan gerrymandering, lawyers argued before the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday. read more »

GOP use of strawmen to submit redistricting maps focus of unsealed testimony

11/25/2014
Lawyers challenging the legality of Florida's congressional districts focused on the use of "strawmen" to submit proposed maps when they questioned GOP political consultant Pat Bainter about the Legislature's 2012 redistricting process, according to testimony in the case unsealed Tuesday.

The lawyers for groups challenging the redrawn congressional districts stressed the fact that third parties were recruited to submit maps drawn by GOP political consultants like Data Targeting, Bainter's company. read more »

Redistricting records GOP-led process was an illusion

11/25/2014
TALLAHASSEE - Long before the first public maps were released, critics say Florida Republican political operatives were creating an illusion of non-partisanship over the once-a-decade redistricting process witha wink and a nudge toward their collaborators in the Legislature.

That illusion was outed Tuesday when the Florida Supreme Court released thousands of pages of emails, testimony and sealed court records related to the GOP political consulting firm Data Targeting, which was at the center of the two-year legal fight over lawmakers' attempts to implement anti-gerrymandering reforms passed by voters. read more »

Florida Supreme Court unseals documents on districts

11/25/2014
TALLAHASSEE - The extent that Republican consultants went to influence Florida's redrawing of congressional and legislative districts was placed into public view on Tuesday by the Florida Supreme Court.

The high court officially unsealed hundreds of pages of emails and documents, as well as court testimony that had been given behind closed doors by one consultant from Gainesville. read more »

Records Show Broad Effort To Funnel Maps Through Public

11/25/2014
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — The Florida Supreme Court released records Tuesday that gave more insight into an alleged plan by Republican political consultants to funnel maps through the public.

The effort itself is not a surprise; revelations at a redistricting trial about a map submitted under the name of former Florida State University student Alex Posada had already indicated some maps submitted through the Legislature's system to gather public ideas were not drawn by the people whose names were attached to them. read more »

9 Investigates: High cost of Florida redistricting lawsuits

11/10/2014
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —The Florida Legislature has spent more than $6 million on outside legal counsel fighting congressional redistricting.

According to records obtained from the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, the two chambers have spent a combined $6,222,655.93 in its lawsuits with groups including the League of Women Voters.


read more »

In Congress, it's sweet to be an incumbent

11/05/2014
Ask the Average Joe or Josephine what they think about Washington — and they will tell you that Congress is full of hacks who need to be thrown out of office.

Yet, do you know how many incumbents Central Florida booted this week?

Zero.

That's right, not a one. read more »

Congressional redistricting heads to state's high court just as lawmakers return to Capitol

10/23/2014
Following a 12-day trial that ended in June, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis threw out district boundaries approved in 2012 by the Legislature, specifically finding that the districts held by U.S. Reps. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando and Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville were drawn to help Republicans maintain overwhelming control of the state's 27-member congressional delegation. read more »

Supreme Court questions need for documents secrecy

09/19/2014
A lawyer for a Republican political consultant trying to keep out of public view documents at the center of a redistricting lawsuit ran into resistance from Florida Supreme Court justices across the ideological spectrum Friday.

The lawyer's client, Pat Bainter —- whose firm Data Targeting, Inc., has battled for months to keep the documents private —- appeared to be bracing for defeat Friday afternoon, issuing a blistering statement denouncing his perceived enemies. read more »

GOP consultant says 'integrity' of court is at stake over redistricting

09/19/2014
TALLAHASSEE - One of Florida's top Republican political consultants stopped short of accusing the state Supreme Court of lacking "integrity" Friday if it rules that he must disclose emails in a case brought under the state's new anti-gerrymandering laws.

Pat Bainter, whose firm Data Targeting has battled for two years to keep the documents private in a lengthy legal battle over the state's redistricting maps, argued on Friday that the release of his emails violates his First Amendment right to anonymous political speech. read more »

Florida Supreme Court holds testy hearing on secret evidence used in redistricting trial

09/18/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A bitter dispute pitting Republican political consultants against groups who challenged Florida's congressional map spilled out in front of the state's highest court on Friday.

The Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether or not secret evidence should have been used during a landmark redistricting trial. The evidence, which included 31 pages of emails and documents, was reviewed by the judge but has not been made public. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Justices Did What to Attorney in Controversial Redistricting Case?

09/18/2014
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday grilled an attorney representing a political consultant who tried to evade a Leon Circuit judge's efforts to get at the truth in the congressional redistricting process.

For his part, D. Kent Safriet of Hopping Green & Sams in Tallahassee tried to turn his client's situation into an opportunity to challenge two constitutional amendments intended to curb gerrymandering. read more »

Re-Draw the Lines- by The Laughing Stock, Florida's Musically Twisted Political Cabaret

08/11/2014
One of the things that will dominate the 2012 Florida Legislative Session is re-districting. Assigned to oversee that Herculean task is Niceville Senator, Don Gaetz. He's been upbeat about it in public but in private, he seems to be harboring a few misgivings. It's not red, white or blue for him. This year, he's the man in black. read more »

Lawmakers grapple with Fla. redistricting

08/05/2014
Florida legislators have been called into a special session to deal with a judge's ruling that they must redraw districts, a decision that could throw this fall's elections into chaos.

A judge ordered lawmakers last Friday to redraw the districts of Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) before Aug. 15, though it's unclear whether they and any others that are altered near them could be redrawn for the 2014 elections, or whether there would be a special election at some point for them. read more »

Legislative Leaders Officially Call Special Session for Redistricting

08/04/2014
On Monday, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, officially called a special session to redraw congressional districts after a Leon County circuit judge ruled their previous efforts failed to pass constitutional muster. read more »

Florida Legislature's Rocket Redistricting Plan

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE—The Florida Legislature is preparing a quick-fix this week to remedy its gerrymandered congressional map which would shed the "finger-like appendages" from two Orlando-area districts that a judge found improperly favored Republicans.

And the GOP-led Legislature is also preparing to fight any attempt to move the primary and general election dates, a move which could plunge election officials into a legal quagmire over thousands of already cast absentee ballots. read more »

Florida Legislature plans quick fix for districts

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature laid out plans Monday to move ahead quickly and make minimal changes to congressional districts declared illegal by a state judge.

Florida legislators will hold a nine-day special session starting on Thursday to redraw the state's 27 congressional districts. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis had given legislators until Aug. 15 to draw up a new map that may be used for a special election later this year. read more »

Florida Legislature to meet Thursday to pass new map

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE | Confronted with a judge's ruling to swiftly redraw the state's congressional districts, Florida's House speaker disclosed extraordinary plans late Sunday to convene a rare summer special session to devise a new map.

The speaker, Will Weatherford, sent out an email to legislators advising that they will hold a special session starting Thursday to address the "limited concerns" raised by a Florida judge over the state's current congressional boundaries. The special session is expected to last up to a week.... read more »

Legislature being called back to Tallahassee in emergency session

08/04/2014
In a move one lawmaker is calling unprecedented, the Florida Legislature is being called back to Tallahassee Thursday to deal with drawing new congressional district maps.

The week-long special session was confirmed earlier Sunday evening by Sen.Jack Latvala.

read more »

Legislature will resume map-drawing on Thursday

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE—After a court found its congressional map unconstitutional, the Florida Legislature will return for a special session Thursday to try to re-design a compliant plan for voters and avert a delay in this fall's elections.

House Speaker Will Weatherford said Sunday night that lawmakers would prefer to address Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis's "limited concerns" quickly rather than appealing the decision and risking further disruption to an already uncertain election calendar. read more »

Judge: Draw New Congressional Districts By August 15

08/04/2014
Florida lawmakers will start a special session Thursday to redraw congressional districts, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said Sunday in a memo to House members.

The announcement came two days after Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ordered lawmakers to redraw the districts and submit a map to him by Aug. 15. Lewis last month ruled that the current congressional map, which lawmakers approved in 2012, violated the Florida Constitution because it did not follow anti-gerrymandering rules approved by voters in 2010. read more »

Special session to redraw congressional map set to begin Thursday

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE — Facing a court-ordered deadline, the Florida Legislature will go into special session this week to redraw the state's congressional district map.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, sent a Sunday night email to state representatives, telling them that they will be forced to return to Tallahassee Thursday to begin the session.

read more »

Florida Redistricting Session Will Start Thursday

08/04/2014
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA - Florida lawmakers will start a special session Thursday to redraw congressional districts, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said Sunday in a memo to House members.

The announcement came two days after Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ordered lawmakers to redraw the districts and submit a map to him by Aug. 15. read more »

Florida poised to revise congressional districts

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE, FL (CBS) - Confronted with a judge's ruling to swiftly redraw the state's congressional districts, Florida's House speaker disclosed extraordinary plans late Sunday to convene a rare summer special session to devise a new map.

The speaker, Will Weatherford, sent out an email to legislators advising that they will hold a special session starting Thursday to address the "limited concerns" raised by a Florida judge over the state's current congressional boundaries. The special session is expected to last up to a week. read more »

Florida to begin redrawing unconstitutional congressional maps on Thursday

08/04/2014
TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - Florida legislative leaders said on Sunday they plan to call a special session on Thursday after a judge ordered them to redraw the state's U.S. congressional maps and held open the possibility of delaying general elections in November.

The decision to reconvene the legislature, which is out of session, was in response to a ruling on Friday by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis that required lawmakers to redraw the maps by Aug. 15. read more »

Judge Orders Redraw of Two Florida Congressional Districts Over Claims They Benefit Republicans; Special Election Looms

08/03/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (TheBlaze/AP) Confronted with a judge's ruling to swiftly redraw the state's congressional districts over charges that they benefit Republicans, Florida's House speaker disclosed extraordinary plans late Sunday to convene a rare summer special session to devise a new map.

The speaker, Will Weatherford, sent out an email to legislators advising that they will hold a special session starting Thursday to address the limited concerns raised by a Florida judge over the state's current congressional boundaries. The special session is expected to last up to a week.

read more »

Florida lawmakers called into special sesssion on redistricting

08/03/2014
TALLAHASSEE _ Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee on Thursday for a special session to redraw congressional district lines that were invalidated by a court ruling.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, sent an email message to House members tonight informing lawmakers of the special session, which is the result of Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis declaring the districts were invalid and calling for lawmakers to prepare a revised redistricting map by Aug. 15. read more »

Florida legislators call special session for redistricting

08/03/2014
TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislative leaders announced Sunday that they will bring lawmakers back for a weeklong special session on Thursday to revise the congressional redistricting map declared invalid by a state judge.

read more »

Fla. Judge Orders Lawmakers Back To Work On A New Congressional Map

08/01/2014
A Florida judge has ordered the state legislature to come back from recess for a special session. Lawmakers will be expected to draw up new maps for congressional districts found unconstitutional. The judge says he may push back the November 4 election date and order special elections in the affected districts. read more »

Redistricting: Lift the Veil and Fix Districts

07/31/2014
A Leon County judge found that Republican lawmakers and consultants "made a mockery" out of a redistricting process that was supposed to be open and transparent.

The ruling in the redistricting case leads to two more critical decisions to be made - one involving a push for public records, another involving the districts.

First, the public records. Even though Judge Terry Lewis struck down two congressional districts with his decision earlier this month, the public is still being kept in the dark about the process in which those districts were drawn. One of the districts is the seat held by U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, who represents part of Polk County. read more »

Editorial: Open the records, it's the law

07/28/2014
A Leon County judge found that Republican lawmakers and consultants "made a mockery" out of a legislative redistricting process that was supposed to be open and transparent — as dictated by a constitutional amendment approved by voters.

Yet even though Judge Terry Lewis struck down two congressional districts with his decision this month, the public is still being kept in the dark about the process in which those districts were drawn. For a state that prides itself on its open government laws, this is inexplicable and smacks of dirty politics. read more »

Timing of decision not to appeal districts ruling was questionable

07/25/2014
Judge Terry Lewis' ruling invalidating the boundaries of two congressional districts was issued on July 10 — a Thursday. Lawmakers quietly "considered" whether to appeal on Friday.

They deliberated over the weekend, and thought some more on Monday. It turns out, as we'll see below, that their period of deliberation may have been, well, deliberate. read more »

On eve of redistricting hearing, group asks for new election dates; Legislature calls move ambush

07/25/2014
In a move the Legislature called an "ambush," a coalition of plaintiffs asked a judge Wednesday to change the 2014 election dates to ensure there is time to redraw the state's congressional districts.

After a two-week trial, Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis earlier this month ruled two of Florida's 27-congressional districts were at odds with a constitutional amendment passed in 2010 that aimed to take politics out of the redistricting process. read more »

Elections chiefs don't expect congressional redraw to affect Palm Beach, Martin counties

07/25/2014
The judge who declared Florida's congressional map illegal spoke Thursday of drawing new districts that would change "a half dozen" of the state's 27 U.S. House seats.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis this month singled out districts in north and central Florida (held by Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown and Republican Rep. Daniel Webster) as violating the voter-approved Fair Districts amendment to the state constitution. read more »

Elections Supervisor Says Redistricting Should Wait - But Not Until 2016

07/25/2014
This week voting rights groups presented their case for redrawing Florida's unconstitutional electoral map immediately rather than waiting until after this year's election. But officials charged with conducting elections are doubtful the plan could work. read more »

Judge skeptical about changing maps quickly

07/25/2014
TALLAHASSEE — A coalition of voting-rights groups on Thursday urged a judge to redraw Florida's congressional map and push back the August primary — or risk having the election be invalid.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis said he was "extremely skeptical" he could do what was asked. read more »

Judge Lewis skeptical of fixing district maps now

07/25/2014
A Leon County judge said Thursday he would try to rule by the end of next week on whether the state's congressional districts have to be redrawn before the November elections.

At the same time, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis seemed hesitant to delay the state's congressional elections while he crafts his own version of the map — something voting-rights groups have asked him to do. Lewis ruled earlier this month that a version of the districts approved by the Legislature in 2012 violated the Florida Constitution. read more »

Florida's congressional districts unlikely to be redrawn before this year's elections, judge indicates

07/24/2014
TALLAHASSEE | The judge who declared Florida's congressional voting districts to be illegally drawn in favor of the Republican Party indicated Thursday that he is unlikely to order them redrawn before this year's elections.

"I have to tell you, I'm extremely skeptical that I can do what the plaintiffs want me to do," Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said of demands by the groups who sued the Florida Legislature. read more »

Judge casts doubt about redrawing Florida congressional map this year

07/24/2014
The judge who declared Florida's congressional map illegal said Thursday he's "extremely skeptical" about trying to change districts before the November elections.

Near the end of a three-hour hearing in Tallahassee, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis also expressed doubts about scheduling as many as "a half dozen" special congressional elections in newly drawn districts in northern and central Florida after the Nov. 4 general election. read more »

Judge declines to order immediate revisions to congressional district map

07/24/2014
Apparently spiking the hopes of some voters' rights groups, a Tallahassee judge on Thursday declined to order immediate revisions to the state's congressional districts, which he had previously deemed unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis indicated that a decision to deal with the maps was forthcoming — a move, some observers of the case have said, that almost certainly would shift thousands of voters in Marion and Alachua counties into new districts. read more »

Florida: Groups Seek to Delay Elections

07/23/2014
A circuit judge is being asked to move this year's election dates — including postponing next month's primary — in order to draw up new congressional districts for the state.

The request was filed Wednesday by a coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters, who successfully challenged the current congressional map. Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled this month that the state Legislature illegally drew the districts in 2012 to primarily benefit the Republican Party. read more »

Fair Districts group proposes to break up Corrine Brown's district, threatens further legal action

07/23/2014
TALLAHASSEE—On the eve of a hearing in which a judge is set to decide whether to allow congressional elections with unconstitutional maps to go forward this year, the groups that sued to block the plan are asking him to re-draw the maps and push back the election.

Lawyers for the League of Women Voters of Florida and other plaintiffs have filed a proposed re-drawing of the offending congressional map in Central Florida, which would dis-assemble Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's currently meandering seat that stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando. It would also box off Republican Rep. Dan Webster's sprawling Polk to Orlando seat by removing a "finger-like appendage" which the court found improperly packed white Republicans in his district. read more »

REDISTRICTING CLASH HEATS UP AS HEARING APPROACHES

07/23/2014
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, July 23, 2014..........Voting-rights advocates and the Legislature squabbled Wednesday about when the state's congressional elections should be held as both sides prepared for a hearing in front of a Leon County judge.

The scuffle started when a coalition of voting-rights groups filed a brief calling for Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who earlier this month ruled that the current congressional districts violated the state Constitution, to draw the boundaries himself and schedule an election that could be delayed until December.

read more »

Groups Ask to Move Florida Election

07/23/2014
A Florida judge is being asked to move this year's election dates — including postponing next month's primary — in order to draw up new congressional districts for the state.

The request was filed Wednesday by a coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters, who successfully challenged Florida's current congressional map. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled earlier this month that the state Legislature illegally drew the districts in 2012 to primarily benefit the Republican Party. read more »

Nancy Pelosi Shouldn't Look to Florida to Flip the House

07/22/2014
Nancy Pelosi made it clear when she talked to the media last week that whatever slim chances there are of Democrats flipping the House rest on redistricting in Florida and, even there, the window is closing. read more »

GOP should be held responsible for redistricting mess

07/22/2014
Recently, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled that Florida's 2010 redistricting map was unconstitutional. He found that legislative leaders had allowed the map-drawing process to be dictated by Republican political operatives, and ordered that at least two of the state's 27 congressional districts be redrawn in compliance with Florida's Fair District amendment.

Bluntly put, our current electoral maps are illegal and corrupt. read more »

News media wants access to redistricting records

07/21/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida news media organizations, including The Associated Press, are asking the state Supreme Court to make public documents that were used in the state's landmark redistricting trial.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled this month that the state Legislature illegally drew Florida's congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party. read more »

News organizations fight for access to records in redistricting case

07/21/2014
The nonprofit First Amendment Foundation and a coalition of news organizations plan to mount a legal battle for access to the records that a Leon County judge relied on in throwing out two redrawn congressional districts as unconstitutional.

This week attorneys representing the group that includes Halifax Media Group, which owns The Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner, expect to seek permission from the Florida Supreme Court to file a friend of the court brief seeking access to sealed records that Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis used in invalidating the redistricting maps the Legislature approved for Democratic U.S. Rep Corrine Brown's sprawling District 5 and Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster's District 10. read more »

Legal Battle Looms Over Florida Congressional Districts

07/21/2014
With the midterm election a little more than three months away, a legal battle in Florida has cast uncertainty over the state's upcoming congressional races.

A state judge ruled this month that maps for two of Florida's 27 congressional districts violated the state constitution. He ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps.

The question now is when.

Like most states, Florida redrew the maps for its congressional districts after the 2010 census. Some states appoint special commissions to do the job, but in Florida, redistricting is done by the state Legislature. read more »

Times-Union to join other media asking judge to unseal records in redistricting controversy

07/18/2014
The Florida Times-Union plans to join other media organizations requesting the Florida Supreme Court unseal evidence heard in a closed-door court session that preceded a Leon County's decision to declare Florida voting maps illegally drawn.

The July 8 decision by Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis was the first to address the state's congressional map under the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts constitutional amendments, approved by voters in 2010. The Supreme Court already invalidated the Legislature's first draft of a state Senate plan, which was then redrawn before the 2012 elections....
read more »

Editorial: Redraw the district

07/17/2014
A judge's decision striking down Rep. Corrine Brown's congressional district found that its bizarre shape is more about protecting Republican election prospects than protecting minority voting rights.

By attacking the decision, Brown, D-Jacksonville, is making it clear that her main concern is protecting her job — even if it means ideological allies have a tougher time winning in neighboring districts. read more »

Fred Grimm: Winning lawsuit over redistricting is as bad as losing

07/17/2014
It's as if you spotted someone cruising around in the family sedan that had been swiped from your driveway. Sorry, the thief says, but he can't return the car just now. Maybe in 2016. Sooner than that would cause nothing but "chaos and confusion."

Except, it wasn't a car that was stolen. Just a fair election. read more »

Hearing on Redistricting Suit

07/17/2014
Lawyers for the Florida Legislature and the state's election supervisors are asking a judge to delay any changes to the state's congressional districts until after the November elections.

Judge Terry Lewis held a hearing today to consider what steps to take now that he has ruled that the current map is unconstitutional. Republican legislative leaders announced this week that they do not plan to appeal the ruling. read more »

Lawyers for Legislature and elections officials tell judge no "window of time" for redistricting re-do

07/17/2014
The attorney for the voters' coalition which successfully challenged Florida's congressional map urged a judge Thursday to consider ordering lawmakers to recast districts in time for this fall's elections.

But attorneys for the Legislature, Secretary of State's office, and the state's county elections supervisors, said it's too late for a re-do of boundaries during a brief hearing before Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis. read more »

Line in the Sand: FL Legislature Won't Repeal Redistricting Ruling

07/16/2014
TALLAHASEE, Fla. - Florida's Legislature will not repeal last week's court ruling that struck down the state's Congressional map that were drawn in 2012. Last week, a Leon County Circuit Court judge found the current district map unfairly favors Republicans.

Lines will be redrawn, but it's still not known whether the new district lines will take effect this year, or in 2016. read more »

Nancy Pelosi: Florida Redistricting Can Help Democrats Flip House

07/16/2014
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered her take on Democratic chances to flip the U.S. House in November—and said it comes down to Florida.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Pelosi said on Wednesday that she sees a way for Democrats to pick up 25 seats from Republicans and flip the chamber. Pointing to a decision from Judge Terry Lewis last week that ruled the seats currently held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., do not pass constitutional muster, Pelosi said it could help Democrats in the Sunshine State. read more »

State will not appeal Congressional redistricting decision

07/16/2014
TALLAHASSEE— Florida lawmakers will not appeal a decision that strikes down the state's Congressional district map.

Last week a judge ruled some of the state's congressional districts were drawn illegally by Florida's Republican-controlled legislature. read more »

Florida Déjà Voodoo

07/16/2014
In my legal career, I've suffered two painful defeats litigating against the Republican political machine of Florida. The first was a case called Bush v. Gore. The second—less famous, but just as bitter—came two years later, in 2002, when I worked on a legal challenge to Florida's absurdly partisan redistricting plan, only to see our claims rejected by both the state and federal courts.

read more »

Legislature agrees to redraw invalid congressional districts for 2016

07/16/2014
TALLAHASSEE—Florida legislative leaders ended their silence on their rejected congressional map Tuesday and announced they will not appeal a judge's ruling, but will redraw the invalid map, as long as they can wait until after the 2014 election.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz asked Judge Terry Lewis to clarify his ruling about the timing of the revisions he is ordering when he ruled that two districts violate the Fair Districts standards of the state constitution, rendering the entire map invalid. Lewis scheduled a hearing on the case for Thursday. read more »

Florida GOP won't appeal redistricting ruling

07/15/2014
PANAMA CITY — Florida Senate President Don Gaetz expected bumps in the process to redraw the state's congressional districts under the "Fair Districts" amendments voters approved in 2010 to protect against gerrymandering.

"We knew that we would not be able to find our way through all of this without some bumps," Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Tuesday following a decision by Republicans in the Florida Legislature to not appeal a judge's ruling that found the districts unconstitutional. read more »

GOP-led Legislature won't appeal Congressional district ruling

07/15/2014
TALLAHASSEE - The Republican-led Legislature won't appeal a ruling that last week found two newly drawn Florida congressional districts unconstitutional.

Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled two Central Florida districts were unconstitutional after a 13-day trial that featured testimony from top legislative leaders, redistricting staff and top GOP political consultants. read more »

Ruling gives teeth to redistricting rules | July 15, 2014 | Jeremy Wallace | HT Politics

07/15/2014
When voters passed a pair of constitutional amendments aimed at ending gerrymandering of Florida's congressional and legislative districts, many cynics assumed that politicians determined to protect their self- interest would find new, clever ways to circumvent the rules.

And it appears that's just what happened when the Legislature released new maps for the state's 27 congressional districts two years ago. Instead of being compact and contiguous as required, many of the districts looked like the same ink blots lawmakers produced before the amendments. read more »

The Political Warning in a Florida Redistricting Ruling

07/15/2014
A Florida court ruling striking down part of the state's congressional map is notable for its impassioned admonition of the unchecked power of political parties for whom "winning is everything."

The 41-page ruling last week, by Judge Terry Lewis of the state's second judicial circuit, ordered several congressional districts in central Florida to be redrawn. It said Republican political consultants influenced the process and that districts had been drawn to protect incumbents and Republican seats. read more »

Florida Lawmakers Won't Challenge Redistricting Ruling

07/15/2014
Florida's legislative leaders won't seek reversal of last week's ruling by a state judge that said boundaries of two of 27 congressional districts are illegal and must be redrawn, while seeking to keep the existing map for this year's elections.

State Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, both Republicans, said today in a statement that while they won't appeal Tallahassee Judge Terry Lewis's July 10 decision, they want him to clarify how soon those district lines must be revised. read more »

Legislature won't appeal but will redraw challenged congressional districts for 2016

07/15/2014
Florida legislative leaders have ended their silence on the rejected congressional map and announced Tuesday they will not appeal the circuit court ruling but agree to redraw the map deemed unconstitutional because of two invalid districts—but they want to wait until next year.

The voters groups, led by the League of Women Voters, contend that Florida must not run the next elections on a constitutionally-flawed map. They have asked Judge Terry Lewis for an expedited hearing to decide how to make the fix. read more »

Secret meetings, destroyed records, lost faith

07/14/2014
Score this round for Florida voters.

In a ruling last week that threw out the state's congressional district map, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis found that state lawmakers had violated their "constitutional duty" to draw districts without gerrymandering them to favor incumbents or their parties. read more »

League Of Women Voters Of Florida On The Implications Of Their Redistricting Suit Victory

07/14/2014
Reaction is still pouring in after a Florida judge voided the state's congressional districts last week. read more »

Politicos Ponder Fallout From Redistricting Ruling

07/14/2014
TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — Members of Congress, candidates and political observers are grappling with the fallout of a judge's Thursday ruling that two of the state's congressional districts were illegally drawn for partisan reasons.

Lawyers on Friday were preparing to ask Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to move quickly to prescribe a remedy for the flawed map. Meanwhile,

Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown blasted Lewis's decision, while a former congressman blamed the ruling after pulling the plug on a comeback attempt.

While Lewis declared that the GOP-dominated Legislature's maps were unconstitutional under the state's anti-gerrymandering standards approved by voters in 2010, he did not specifically lay out a fix for the districts. He could redraw the lines himself or order lawmakers to do it. read more »

New district map may not be a game-changer

07/13/2014
WASHINGTON - Most Democrats are cheering the Florida Circuit Court's judge ruling Thursday throwing out the congressional district map drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

But at least one expert who studies congressional races says Democrats shouldn't get too giddy, even if it helps put the Orlando-area seat — now held by Republican Daniel Webster — back into play.

David Wasserman, who monitors House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said there are several reasons why not much might change in a state where Republicans control 17 of the state's 27 congressional seats. read more »

Redistricting ruling could change Florida's political landscape

07/13/2014
TALLAHASSEE — Members of Congress, candidates and political observers are grappling with the fallout of a judge's Thursday ruling that two of the state's congressional districts were illegally drawn for partisan reasons.

Lawyers on Friday were preparing to ask Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to move quickly to prescribe a remedy for the flawed map. Meanwhile, Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown blasted Lewis's decision, while a former congressman blamed the ruling after pulling the plug on a comeback attempt. read more »

Editorial: Victory for voters on districts

07/13/2014
A circuit judge's decision to invalidate Florida's congressional map is a victory for voters who demanded fairly drawn districts and a defeat for powerful legislators who still rigged the game to help their friends. Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis' order is a sweeping indictment of the secrecy and insider dealing that characterized the redrawing of the congressional districts. His decision is certain to be appealed, but the Florida Supreme Court should promptly affirm his decision and direct the Legislature to try again.

Voters could not have been clearer when they amended the state Constitution in
2010 to require that congressional and legislative districts be drawn without
regard to protecting incumbents or political parties. Yet Lewis heard more than
enough evidence to reasonably conclude lawmakers ignored those rules in 2012
and order that two congressional districts be redrawn, which would create a
ripple effect and require other districts to be adjusted. One of the invalid
districts has been held for more than two decades by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, an African-American Democrat from Jacksonville. The other is an Orlando area district held by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, a white Republican. read more »

Editorial: Judge's ruling confirms redistricting sham

07/12/2014
Voters who supported the "Fair Districts" amendments in 2010 should feel violated by the Florida legislators who presided over a redistricting process that appears to have cast aside the will of the people to further selfish political interests.

In fact, every Floridian, regardless of whether they supported those amendments, should be alarmed when lawmakers blithely ignore the rule of law to maintain political power.

Voters in 2010 passed two constitutional amendments requiring legislators to draw the boundaries of the state's political districts fairly and without benefit to an incumbent or political party. The amendments passed with 63 percent of the vote. read more »

Redistricting: legislators defied voters: Editorial

07/12/2014
Score this round for Florida voters.

In a ruling Thursday that threw out the state's congressional district map, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis found that legislators had violated their "constitutional duty" to draw districts without gerrymandering them to favor incumbents or their parties. It was the voters who imposed that duty in 2010 when they approved the Fair

Districts amendments to the Florida Constitution. read more »

OH, FLORIDA: REDISTRICTING RULED ILLEGAL

07/11/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Legislature illegally drew the state's congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party, a judge has ruled, and has ordered them redrawn.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said in a 41-page ruling Thursday that legislators relied on GOP political operatives who worked in secret to craft the final political maps adopted in 2012. In doing so Lewis rejected arguments from top legislative leaders that they had done nothing wrong during the process. read more »

Redistricting ruling. Uncertainty. It's Florida

07/11/2014
Lawmakers and attorneys continued Friday to sift through a judge's ruling which overturned Florida's congressional district boundaries and cast a deep cloud over this fall's elections.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis declared the state's congressional map unconstitutional Thursday, but offered no immediate guidelines on how or when the plan should be corrected.

With less than two months before the Aug. 26 primaries, a wide range of possible outcomes loomed. But some redistricting experts noted that since it involved Florida and elections, some level of chaos is virtually guaranteed. read more »

Ruling That Rejects 2 Florida Districts' Borders Casts Haze Over Coming Elections

07/11/2014
TAMPA, Fla. — After political operatives helped redraw the boundaries of Florida's Fifth Congressional District, now held by Representative Corrine Brown, a Democrat, it snaked all the way from Jacksonville to Orlando, packing in more Democrats, but also benefiting Republicans in nearby districts. In a similar process in the 10th District, in the Orlando suburb of Winter Garden, an "appendage" was tacked on benefiting the incumbent, Representative Daniel Webster, a Republican.

On Thursday night in a scathing decision, a state court judge tossed aside those district lines, saying they "made a mockery" of a voter-approved amendment meant to inject fairness into a process that has long been politically tainted. read more »

Redistricting ruling upends state's political landscape

07/11/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's political landscape is being upended by a landmark legal ruling that one legal expert says could influence the way other states draw their congressional districts.

A circuit judge ruled late Thursday that the state Legislature illegally drew Florida's congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party. Judge Terry Lewis ruled that two of the state's 27 congressional districts were invalid and that the map must be redrawn. read more »

A Florida judge just voided the state's congressional districts. Here's what you need to know.

07/11/2014
Last night a circuit court judge in Florida voided the state's congressional map, citing a "secret, organized campaign" by Republican operatives that "made a mockery of the Legislature's transparent and open process of redistricting." The ruling concluded that District 5, held by Democrat Corrine Brown, and District 10, held by Republican Dan Webster, will need to be redrawn. From a purely practical standpoint, this means redrawing any surrounding districts as well, and possibly many of the state's 27 districts overall. "If one or more districts do not meet constitutional muster, then the entire act is unconstitutional," Judge Terry Lewis wrote.

The ruling is something of a barn-burner, and well worth a read. Lewis opens it up with a quote from George Washington warning of "cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men" who will "subvert the power of the people" and "usurp for themselves the reins of government." Below, three big takeaways. read more »

Florida redistricting ruling could be felt for decades

07/11/2014
TALLAHASSEE—Central Florida's political geography could be scrambled thanks to a court's ruling that the Legislature's congressional maps tilted too far to help elect Republicans.

The fallout could be felt for years as a precedent-setter for future once-a-decade redistricting rounds. But could the ruling short-circuit this year's elections? read more »

Florida redistricting ruling means uncertainty for voters and candidates

07/11/2014
TALLAHASSEE — The court ruling that invalidated Florida's congressional districts this week will give voters in November's elections something they are used to: uncertainty.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis rejected the Legislature's 2012 congressional map and specifically ordered two of the state's 27 districts redrawn to comply with the state's Fair District constitutional amendment. read more »

House Democrats Have Mixed Reaction to Florida Redistricting Ruling

07/11/2014
Democrats on Capitol Hill expressed mixed reactions Friday to a new court ruling that declared Florida's congressional map unconstitutional.

A judge ruled Thursday that the Sunshine State's 5th and 10th Districts, held by Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown and Republican Rep. Daniel Webster were unconstitutional — effectively tossing out the entire map drawn by Republicans in 2012. read more »

GOP redistricting scheme blocked by court

07/11/2014
Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, talks with Ari Melber about her organization's victory in court against a Republican redistricting scheme to reduce Democratic representation in Congress. read more »

Florida's 2010 Congressional Redistricting Ruled Unconstitutional by Florida Circuit Court

07/10/2014
Earlier today, Judge Terry P. Lewis of the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Florida found that the Florida Legislature violated the state constitution when it redrew its congressional boundaries.

Voters in Florida overwhelmingly supported amending the Florida Constitution in 2010 to bar the Legislature from intentionally favoring or disfavoring a political party or an incumbent. Today, Judge Lewis found a "group of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process" and that they did so "all with the intention of obtaining enacted maps for the State House and Senate and Congress that would favor the Republican Party." read more »

Florida Has To Redraw Its Congressional Districts Because,

07/10/2014
A state judge ordered Florida to redraw its congressional districts Thursday after he found them to be gerrymandered.

Elections in the Sunshine State are never easy.

A Florida judge threw out the state's congressional district map on Thursday because two districts were drawn in a partisan manner that violated the state constitution. read more »

Florida Ruling Is A Primer On Redistricting Chicanery

07/10/2014
If you have some time over the weekend or need a break from the endless LeBron James coverage, you could peruse the highly readable opinion by a Florida judge who invalidated some of the redistricting efforts by the state's Republican Legislature.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis found compelling evidence of chicanery in how the lines of two Florida congressional districts were redrawn — the 5th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, and the 10th District, held by Rep. Daniel Webster, a Republican. read more »

Judge strikes down GOP-drawn Florida congressional lines

07/10/2014
A Florida circuit county court has struck down the state's congressional map and ordered a redrawing of district lines.

In his 41-page ruling issued Thursday evening, Judge Terry Lewis writes that the map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature for the 2012 elections violated the state constitution's Fair Districts Amendments, specifically in regard to the Rep. Corrine Brown's (D) Jacksonville-based 5th District and Rep. Daniel Webster's ® Orlando-area 10th District. read more »

Judge Tosses Two House Districts in Florida Redistricting Trial

07/10/2014
A federal judge ruled Thursday two Florida House districts violated the state's constitution, following a dramatic trial that questioning the state's recently redrawn boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.

It is still unclear whether the ruling will affect the 2014 elections.

Judge Terry Lewis ruled the 5th and 10th Districts, held by Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown and Republican Rep. Daniel Webster, respectively, violated the state constitution's Fair District Amendments. He said the districts violated the 2010 amendments because they are not compact and were drawn to favor the Republican Party. The judge had some strong words for the Republican operatives and consultants that he ruled influenced the redistricting process. read more »

Corrine Brown calls redistricting decision 'seriously flawed'

07/10/2014
Rep. Corrine Brown, who teamed up with Republicans in the early 1990s to carve out a heavily African-American district, blasted the court decision calling her district into question. In a statement the Jacksonville Democrat said:

"The decision by Judge Lewis is seriously flawed. It completely fails to take into consideration the rights of minority voters or to recognize federal law, specifically the 1964 Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights and clearly supersedes the state's Fair Districts standards.
read more »

Florida congressional district map ruled unconstitutional

07/10/2014
TALLAHASSEE — In a blow to Florida's ruling Republicans, a judge Thursday night threw out the state's congressional district map, ruling that party consultants illegally helped craft boundaries which helped the GOP retain power.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis specifically cited two districts as violating the state constitution's prohibition on drawing boundaries to help incumbents or a party: the serpentine Jacksonville-to-Orlando district held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and partially contiguous Central Florida district held by Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster. read more »

Judge tosses Florida districts drawn in 2012 including the sprawling district represented by Rep. Corrine Brown

07/10/2014
In a highly anticipated ruling, a Leon County judge struck down a map of the Florida's congressional districts drawn by the Legislature in 2012, potentially throwing the political future of the state into turmoil.

But the ruling, issued by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, is virtually certain to be appealed and end up before the Florida Supreme Court, meaning that this year's elections will likely proceed normally.

Legislative leaders were reviewing the ruling late Thursday. But a lawyer for voting-rights groups challenging the map said it was "very satisfying" to see Lewis' opinion and said his side was ready for an appeal. read more »

Judge rules Florida Legislature broke law on maps

07/10/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Legislature illegally drew the state's congressional districts to primarily benefit the Republican Party, a judge ruled Thursday as he ordered them redrawn.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said in a 41-page ruling that legislators relied on GOP political operatives who worked in secret to craft the final political maps adopted in 2012. In doing so Lewis rejected arguments from top legislative leaders that they had done nothing wrong during the process. read more »

Florida redistricting illegally favors Republicans, judge rules

07/10/2014
A Florida judge ruled the state's congressional district map invalid Thursday night, saying it violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts and instead favors Republicans.

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent." read more »

Florida judge throws out 2012 congressional redistricting plan

07/10/2014
(Reuters) - A Florida judge threw out the state's 2012 congressional redistricting plan on Thursday, saying Republicans conspired to manipulate the boundaries to protect the party's majority in Washington and "made a mockery" of the rules of transparency in the process.

In the 41-page ruling Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis specifically ordered that two of the state's 27 districts should be redrawn as they violated a "Fair Districts Florida" standard approved by voters in 2010 to ban legislators from favoring or protecting incumbents. read more »

Judge rules Florida congressional map violates Fair Districts standards

07/10/2014
TALLAHASSEE — Florida's re-drawn congressional map intentionally favors Republicans in violation of the anti-gerrymandering standards voters approved in 2010 and will have to be re-drawn, according to a ruling late Thursday from a Tallahassee judge.

The judge found particular problems with two seats that knife through Central Florida, held by Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden.

read more »

Judge throws out Florida's congressional map

07/10/2014
A judge threw out Florida's congressional redistricting map Thursday, ruling that the Legislature allowed for a "secret, organized campaign" by partisan operatives to subvert the redistricting process in violation of the state Constitution.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled that two of the state's 27 districts are invalid and must be redrawn, along with any other districts affected by them, to bring the map into compliance with the state's new Fair District amendments. read more »

Florida districting trial exposes political dirty laundry

06/30/2014
Every 10 years after a census, political lines are redrawn nationally to reapportion congressional seats based on population. Growing states, like Florida, may pick up a congressional seat or two at a cost to other states. Such was the case in 2012.

In Florida, the Legislature draws the lines for its own districts as well as those for the growing congressional delegation. While we would like to believe these lines would be drawn fairly and without regard to protecting incumbents, rewarding favorites and growing representation by the majority party, there's reason to question the outcomes of previous efforts under both parties. Attempts to move redistricting responsibility from the hands of legislators to independent or bipartisan committees, as in seven other states, haven't gained traction. read more »

Romano: Pitiful showing for legislative elections proves the case that districts were rigged

06/23/2014
Is it too late to submit evidence in the redistricting trial in Tallahassee?

Maybe slip it under the judge's door after hours? Compose a random tweet? Follow him into the men's room and casually start a conversation?

Granted, closing arguments have been submitted and a verdict is not too far away but the heart of the case was essentially proved on Friday. read more »

Redistricting trial: Appeals court reverses course in fight over GOP consultant's documents

06/19/2014
After an internal challenge, an appeals court has reversed an earlier ruling shielding documents from being made public as part of a precedent-setting redistricting trial. (read ruling)
The opinion, issued Thursday, is rare because it represents a larger panel of judges from the 1st District Court of Appeals overturning an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel from the same court.
At issue are more than 500 documents from Gainesville-based GOP consulting firm Data Targeting. Attorneys from the firm, which is not a party to the case, argued that the internal documents contained "trade secrets" and were protected under the First Amendment. read more »

Former House speaker says he didn't know about GOP redistricting meeting

05/28/2014
TALLAHASSEE — Former Florida House SpeakerDean Cannon said Wednesday he had no idea that his top staffers held a meeting at the Republican Party of Florida offices to discuss the state's redistricting process, but would have had no concerns had he been made aware.

The testimony came during the seventh day of a trial during which plaintiffs are challenging the congressional maps drawn during the 2012 redistricting process. A coalition of plaintiffs contends the maps were drawn to favor Republicans, which would be at odds with language added to the state constitution in 2010.

Plaintiffs' attorney David King focused, in part, on the December 2010 meeting with top state staffers involved with redistricting at state GOP headquarters. Others involved were Republican political consultants who participated in redistricting in the past, but weren't allowed to take part as a result of the new language. read more »

Florida Republicans defend congressional map in court

05/28/2014
Some of the nation's most competitive House races in 2014 are in Florida, but it's possible the district lines under which candidates for the state's 27 seats are running could be scrapped in a courtroom before voters even begin to cast their ballots.

The League of Women Voters, Common Cause of Florida and other Democratic-aligned groups are challenging the state's Republican-drawn congressional map in court, alleging that the GOP violated Florida's Fair Districts amendment — passed by voters in 2010 — that calls for the redistricting process to be done without taking into account partisan makeup or incumbent advantage.

read more »

High Court: Redistricting secret docs can be viewed

05/28/2014
TALLAHASSEE — The back-and-forth battle over secret redistricting documents ended Tuesday as the Florida Supreme Court ruled 538 pages of emails, maps and planning documents of a GOP political operative must be allowed into the record in the ongoing redistricting trial - but only if the courtroom is closed.

The 5-2 ruling by the state's high court was a victory for the voters groups who are challenging the congressional maps drawn by the Legislature. The groups also are alleging that a "shadow" redistricting process was conducted by political consultants and operatives in an attempt to unconstitutionally influence the legislature's drawing of the 2012 maps. read more »

VOTING GROUPS CAN USE GOP OPERATIVE'S DOCUMENTS IN LAWSUIT



05/27/2014
Overturning an appellate court ruling, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a Tallahassee judge to allow a GOP consultant's documents to be considered in a trial about the Legislature's 2012 redistricting effort, a move one justice called "unprecedented."



A coalition of voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters, contend congressional maps are unconstitutional because Republican operatives worked through "public front persons" to submit maps to the Legislature. The groups say the maps violate the voter-approved "Fair Districts" amendments, which bar lawmakers from drawing districts that favor political parties or incumbents. read more »

Justices rule consultant's documents can be used at trial — behind closed doors

05/27/2014
A divided Florida Supreme Court agreed Tuesday that hundreds of pages of emails, maps and other documents from the consulting firm Data Targeting, Inc., should be allowed as evidence in a congressional redistricting trial now in its second week.

The court's 5-2 ruling overturns an earlier order by the 1st District Court of Appeal which said the documents should be off limits at the trial. The high court concluded that "irreparable harm…might occur if the petitioners are prevented from using the challenged documents."

read more »

Florida Supreme Court Allows Evidence At Redistricting Trial

05/27/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court is allowing the use of key evidence in an ongoing trial to determine whether state legislators broke the law when drawing up new political maps.

The high court on Tuesday overturned an appeals court decision that had blocked the use of documents obtained from a Gainesville-based political consulting firm.

Groups suing the Florida Legislature wanted to use the documents in their lawsuit, which contends legislators drew up congressional districts in 2012 in a way that would help Republicans. read more »

In 5-2 ruling, Florida Supreme Court says secret redistricting documents must be disclosed

05/27/2014
TALLAHASSEE — In a 5-2 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court late Tuesday reversed the appeals court in the ongoing redistricting trial, upholding the trial judge's decision that 538 pages of redistricting emails, maps and planning documents of GOP political operative Pat Bainter must be made public but with one caveat — that they be released in a closed courtroom.

"As specifically requested in the emergency petition, the circuit court is not precluded from admitting the documents into evidence, subject to a proper showing of relevancy, but shall maintain the confidentiality of the documents by permitting any disclosure or use only under seal of the court and in a courtroom closed to the public,'' the court ruled in a 16-page ruling that comes even before the DCA issued its ruling in writing. The appellate court ruling has been expected since Thursday. read more »

GOP's Terraferma testifies that pieces of his redistricting maps were public submission

05/27/2014
The second week of the redistricting trial is underway, and Republican Party of Florida official Frank Terraferma has returned to the stand, this time acknowledging that significant pieces of the Senate map he gave to a GOP consultant were identical to a map submitted by the member of the public.

This is the second time Terraferma, director of House campaigns for RPOF, has acknowledged that maps he drew and gave to GOP redistricting consultant Rich Heffley were identical to a map submitted by a member of the public. On Friday, Terraferma testified that significant parts of a congressional map he drew matched the map used by lawmakers in the final congressional map. read more »

Redistricting expert testifies political maps drawn by Fla. Legislature have partisan bias

05/27/2014
Florida — A statistics professor is testifying that new political maps drawn by Florida legislators have a significant partisan bias.

Professor Jonathan Katz took the stand Tuesday during the trial to determine whether legislators broke the law when drawing up new maps for Congress.

A coalition of groups contends state legislators ignored a 2010 constitutional amendment that required them to draw up congressional districts that do not protect incumbents or members of a certain party. read more »

Scientists: Florida's congressional map is 'partisan gerrymander'

05/27/2014
TALLAHASSEE — The coalition of groups trying to prove Florida's congressional map was intentionally gerrymandered to help Republicans turned to experts Tuesday who testified it "virtually impossible" to have drawn the maps without political bias.

The trial over Florida's congressional maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature and challenged by the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs began its second week Tuesday with GOP operative Frank Terraferma testifying again about maps he had drawn and passed along to another GOP consultant, Rich Heffley. Similar versions of the maps were later publicly submitted to the Legislature by an engineering student at Florida State University. read more »

Editorial: Extreme districts

05/24/2014
A trial that started this week will hopefully end the practice of Florida drawing congressional and legislative districts to benefit a particular party or candidate.

The League of Women Voters and other groups filed the lawsuit. It alleges that the GOP-led Legislature violated the 2010 Fair Districts state constitutional amendments by drawing districts for partisan purposes.

The case has major implications for the gerrymandered district of U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown. The Democratic representative's district starts in Jacksonville, winding through east Gainesville and ending around Orlando. read more »

GOP staffer drew maps turned in to lawmakers

05/24/2014
A Republican Party of Florida official testified Friday that congressional maps he drew and turned over to a GOP consultant were identical to those submitted to the Legislature by a member of the public months later as lawmakers held hearings on how they should redraw the state's political lines.

Frank Terraferma was shown his maps alongside those submitted under someone else's name at a public hearing three months later and agreed that seven congressional districts were the same. But Terraferma, who runs state House campaigns for the state party, said he didn't know his maps were turned in at the public hearings until seeing them in the courtroom Friday. read more »

Lawyers attempt to link Florida GOP operative to deceit in redistricting trial

05/23/2014
TALLAHASSEE | An employee of the state Republican Party who drew congressional districts that appear to have been submitted to the Legislature under someone else's name took the stand in a redistricting trial Friday, as lawyers continued to battle over access to documents generated by political consultants.

Frank Terraferma, who became director of state House campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida in January 2011, began testifying late Friday as the trial's first week came to a close.

The League of Women Voters, a cluster of media organizations inlcuding the Times-Union and and some individual voters have challenged the state's congressional maps, saying they violate the anti-gerrymandering Fair District amendments approved by voters in 2010. read more »

District maps secrecy erodes people's trust

05/23/2014
Remember 2010? That's the year when we, the voters of Florida, passed a constitutional amendment that was supposed to combat gerrymandering, simplify our state's Legislature-drawn congressional districts and prevent them from favoring political parties or incumbents.

Remember 2012? That's the year when our Republican-dominated Legislature — helmed by Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford — set forth to scribbling and squiggling those aforementioned redistricting lines all over the state map.

Now it's 2014, and the work of modern art our elected officials produced has now cost Florida taxpayers almost $2 million in legal defense fees. Why? The current trial over the legality of those 2012 maps is providing more clues by the day. read more »

GOP official doesn't know why his maps match public plan, final proposal

05/23/2014
TALLAHASSEE — A Republican Party of Florida official testified Friday that maps he drew and gave to a GOP redistricting consultant were identical to a map submitted by a member of the public, significant parts of which were used by lawmakers in the final congressional map.

The testimony of Frank Terraferma, director of House campaigns for RPOF, came as lawyers for a coalition of voters are trying to show in circuit court that "legislators and staffers collaborated" with political operatives to conduct a "shadow" redistricting process. The groups. Led by the League of Women Voters, are challenging the state's congressional map and accusing legislators of violating the 2010 constitutional amendment requiring them to draw districts that do not protect incumbents or members of a party. The trial is in its fifth day.

read more »

Appeals court rules that secret documents may not be made public in redistricting trial

05/22/2014
The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee sided Thursday with Republican political consultants and ordered that 538 pages of their documents may be considered confidential "trade secrets" and should not be entered as evidence in the pending trial over the state's congressional districts.

The ruling came on the fourth day of the 12-day trial g in Circuit Court in Leon County and reverses a ruling by Judge Terry Lewis who had ordered that the documents of GOP consulting company, Data Targeting, and its owner Pat Bainter could be made public if entered as evidence. read more »

Under oath, Gaetz defends secret meeting to reach congressional map deal

05/21/2014
Florida's precedent-setting redistricting trial is on its third day with Senate President Don Gaetz under oath, being grilled in detail about the deal he reached in secret with the House and Senate on the congressional map.

Gaetz, R-Niceville, who was in charge of the Senate redistricting effort in 2011-12, told the court there were two meetings between him and his counterpart in the House, current House Speaker Will Weatherford, in which they agreed to settle on the Senate's map design for the final joint congressional map. The proposal boosted the number of black voters in the meandering congressional district that stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando and is the subject a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of voters.

read more »

Weatherford: Political consultants wanted 'clarity' in redistricting

05/20/2014
TALLAHASSEE - House Speaker Will Weatherford testified Tuesday that Republican political consultants had "sullen faces" when he and other lawmakers told them flatly they could not have a hand in re-drawing new congressional maps.

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, led the House panel tasked with re-drawing legislative and congressional maps from 2010 to 2012 — the first time following the 2010 passage of the so-called Fair Districts amendments prohibiting political gerrymandering. He is also the first major policymaker to take the stand in the two-week trial in Leon CountyCircuit Court.

The League of Women Voters and other groups have filed suit alleging GOP lawmakers still drew the congressional plans to help elect more Republicans, and their lawyers have pointed to meetings between GOP consultants and legislative staffers in the months following the passage. read more »

In redistricting first, House speaker testifies in court to defend map

05/20/2014
In an unprecedented move, House Speaker Will Weatherford took the stand in the trial over Florida's congressional districts Tuesday and defended against accusations that legislators allowed staff to work with political consultants, enabled a shadow process to influence the outcome and destroyed records.

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, was chairman of the House redistricting effort in 2012 when legislators drew the state's 27 congressional districts according to new rules imposed by the Fair Districts amendments. read more »

Florida House Speaker Weatherford testifies in redistricting trial

05/20/2014
TALLAHASSEE — For the first time in Florida history, a sitting House speaker took the witness stand Tuesday to give testimony about state business.

In most cases, so-called "legislative privilege" shields lawmakers from having to go under oath in cases that involve state business. The Florida Supreme Court, though, ruled that legal philosophy doesn't apply to a redistricting trial that could lead to the state's congressional districts being redrawn.

The plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, contend the state's congressional maps are unconstitutional because politics played a role in shaping the districts, contrary to a 2010 "Fair Districts" amendment that was to remove politics from redistricting read more »

Redistricting trial hears of deleted emails, pilfered maps as Republicans deny wrongdoing

05/20/2014
TALLAHASSEE | House Speaker Will Weatherford testified on Tuesday that the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature went out of its way to shed all political considerations when legislators drew up new congressional maps two years ago.

Besides Weatherford's remarks, the second day of the redistricting trial also featured plenty of details about what happens behind the scenes.

A former top House aide testified that while he worked there, he deleted all sorts of emails from his computer every day, including about the redistricting efforts. But he said he also saved redistricting maps on a flash drive that was later hand-delivered to a top Republican political consultant. read more »

Trial puts Florida redistricting under microscope

05/20/2014
A high-stakes trial that could decide the future of the state's congressional districts began Monday in Tallahassee, as a Republican political consultant testified that he didn't influence the drawing of U.S. House lines in 2012.

The testimony of Marc Reichelderfer marked the beginning of the first-ever court battle over the state's once-a-decade redistricting process under the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments. Those constitutional standards, passed by voters in 2010, bar lawmakers from drawing lines intended to harm or favor parties or candidates when overhauling legislative and congressional districts after each U.S. Census. read more »

House speaker Weatherford testifies at Fla. redistricting trial

05/20/2014
TALLAHASSEE — For the first time in Florida history, a sitting House speaker took the witness stand Tuesday to give testimony about state business.

In most cases, so-called "legislative privilege" shields lawmakers from having to go under oath in cases that involve state business. The Florida Supreme Court, though, ruled that legal philosophy doesn't apply to a redistricting trial that could lead to the state's congressional districts being redrawn.

The plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, contend the state's congressional maps are unconstitutional because politics played a role in shaping the districts, contrary to a 2010 "Fair Districts" amendment that was to remove politics from redistricting. read more »

Redistricting trial begins with Reichelderfer on stand for more than 3 hours

05/20/2014
First update….

The role played by a longtime GOP political consultant in the drawing of state congressional districts is taking center stage Monday during the first day of a trial that could lead to the redrawing of all of Florida's congressional seats.

A coalition of plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, are challenging the state's congressional maps in Leon County court. They charge that the maps are unconstitutional because politics helped shape the districts to an unconstitutional level. In 2010, voters approved the "Fair Districts" amendment, which aimed to remove politics form the once-a-decade redistricting process. read more »

Florida House Speaker expected to testify during second day of redistricting trial

05/20/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is expected to testify during the second day of a trial looking at whether legislators broke the law when drawing up new political maps.

Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican, was in charge of the House committee that oversaw redistricting in 2011 and 2012.

Voters in 2010 passed the "Fair Districts" amendment that says districts cannot be drawn in a way to favor incumbents or members of a political party. read more »

Editorial: Openness required in redistricting fight

05/19/2014
Before a court rules on whether Florida legislative leaders crossed a line when they consulted with Republican political operatives over the drawing of the state's 2012 congressional districts, the public should also see the facts. The Florida Supreme Court already has ruled the leaders' legislative privilege doesn't shield them from being asked about those conversations under oath. Now an appellate court should require the same public openness for written communications between those lawmakers, their staff and the political operatives. Anything less is an affront to Florida's rich tradition of open government and undermines the state Constitution. read more »

Political battle in Florida over redistricting goes to court

05/19/2014
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - A two-week civil trial opened on Monday to examine how the boundaries of Florida's 27 seats in the House of Representatives were redrawn two years ago by state lawmakers.

The League of Women Voters of Florida and some individual voters argue the state's Republican-led state Legislature violated a state constitutional amendment prohibiting consideration of party membership, incumbency or other partisan factors in drawing up congressional districts. read more »

Politicos sought 'seat at table

05/19/2014
TALLAHASSEE - A Republican consultant testified Monday that he and other political operatives wanted a "seat at the table" during Florida's once-a-decade redistricting process, despite constitutional reforms voters adopted to insulate the process from partisan politics.

Marc Reichelderfer, a consultant to former House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, dominated the first day of the trial in Leon Circuit Court. He was questioned over whether the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature violated the state constitution by intentionally drawing lines to elect more Republicans.

The League of Women Voters and other groups have been fighting for two years to get access to legislative records and force them to testify in the case, which is focused for now on the congressional maps. read more »

GOP consultant got sneak peek at state redistricting maps

05/19/2014
Florida's two-week redistricting trial began with a bang Monday as Republican political consultant and lobbyist Marc Reichelderfer admitted he had access to more than two dozen secret maps drawn by the Legislature's staff weeks before they were available to the public. He also said he recommended modifications to pending maps.

But Reichelderfer, a longtime consultant to former House Speaker Dean Cannon, repeatedly denied having any role in influencing the outcome of the maps produced by the Republican-controlled Legislature, which is prohibited from drawing political boundaries to benefit political parties and incumbents. read more »

POST IN TALLAHASSEE REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT GOP adviser: District maps like a Rubik's Cube for 'political junkies'

05/19/2014
TALLAHASSEE — A Republican campaign consultant testified Monday that he was given an early look at more than a dozen proposed congressional district maps merely to get the "lay of the land" — not because he was advising GOP leaders eager to maintain power.

Marc Reichelderfer said the once-a-decade redistricting process was "like a Rubik's Cube" to him and other consultants, whom he described as "political junkies" fascinated with manipulating maps. read more »

Swords out in row over redistricting

05/19/2014
TALLAHASSEE — If the legions of lawyers were armed with swords and clad in medieval dress, the state's latest redistricting fight could be Florida's Game of Thrones.

The epic struggle for control of Florida's congressional map comes to center stage in a Tallahassee courtroom on Monday, complete with intertwining plot lines, side battles and, like any ancient drama, the quest for power — getting it and keeping it.

The 2012 congressional map drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature is being challenged by a coalition of Democratic-leaning groups and seven individuals led by the League of Women Voters— referred to as the "League of Women Vipers" in emails from Republican political consultants.

read more »

A case of dubious document destruction in Florida redistricting challenge

12/20/2013
Suspicious. Very suspicious. The latest twist in Florida's questionable integrity in the elections process came this week with revelations that the Legislature destroyed documents connected to implementation of two 2010 amendments to the state Constitution.

Those "FairDistricts" amendments are designed to prevent the gerrymandering of legislative and congressional boundaries typically utilized by the political party in power to protect incumbents or gain other partisan election advantages. read more »

Tallahassee's bonfire of the alibis

12/19/2013
You'll probably find this hard to believe, but there are some cynics afoot who are of the opinion that a lobbyist charm bracelet of Tallahassee Republicans might have cooked the books when redrawing the state's political maps in 2012.

Just where this sort of snarky distrust comes from is anybody's guess. read more »

Oops! Lawmakers destroyed redistricting records

12/18/2013
TALLAHASSEE — In new court filings, House and Senate Republican leaders are conceding they deleted records related to the 2012 re-drawing of congressional and legislative maps.

The voting-rights groups — including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and individual voters — challenging Florida's re-drawn congressional maps notified a Leon County court Wednesday that they intended to place House and Senate officials under oath to find out what documents were destroyed and why.

"The admission that redistricting records were destroyed should have Florida voters up in arms," League President Deirdre Macnab said in a statement.

House Speaker Will Weatherford in a statement said that legislators had not intentionally destroyed any records. Instead the House discarded records according to existing rules. He also said that the Legislature has already handed over thousands of

read more »

Florida Supreme Court rules lawmakers must testify in redistricting case

12/13/2013
TALLAHASSEE — The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that legislators and their staffs must testify in a case that accuses Republicans of redrawing political boundaries for partisan advantage in violation of the state Constitution.


The 5-2 decision means that the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others can force Republican senators and key staff members to testify under oath about their motives in drawing districts. The plaintiffs claim emails show that the GOP plotted with party officials and political consultants for partisan advantage in the 2012 remapping of Senate and congressional districts. In a blistering dissent, Justice Charles Canady, joined by Chief Justice Ricky Polston, called the majority's conclusions "unprecedented" and said the ruling "grievously violates the constitutional separation of powers." read more »

High court rules Florida lawmakers must testify on redistricting

12/13/2013
TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers enjoy protection from being forced to testify in most civil cases, the Florida Supreme Court ruled late Friday, but that protection does not extend to a challenge to the state's congressional districts working its way through the courts.

The landmark, 5-2 ruling was the first time the justices have recognized a "legislative privilege" in Florida. But it came as something of a pyrrhic victory for lawmakers who were hoping to avoid testifying about the 2012 redistricting process. read more »

Florida Supreme Court rejects Republican leaders' bid for shield in redistricting cases

12/13/2013
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Friday that state lawmakers can be forced to testify in redistricting cases claiming that backroom huddling with consultants and a flurry of email exchanges were part of an illegal effort to keep Republicans in command of Florida.

The 5-2 ruling by justices sided with the League of Women Voters of Florida, which disputed the stand by lawmakers that "legislative privilege" shields them from testifying in lawsuits challenging the state's new congressional and state Senate maps. read more »

Fla. Supreme Court: Lawmakers Not Exempt From Testifying About Redistricting

12/13/2013
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled lawmakers should not be exempt from testifying about the redistricting process in a lawsuit challenging the state's Congressional maps. The court says the public's interest in fair districts outweighs legislative privilege in this case. read more »

Supreme Court: Lawmakers must testify on redistricting maps

12/13/2013
TALLAHASSEE — The Supreme Court ruled Friday that lawmakers can be forced to testify as part of a lawsuit challenging whether they violated the constitution when they drew new congressional districts.

The decision is a victory for the League of Women Voters and others who are suing over the new political boundaries approved in 2012. They argue that the Republican controlled Legislature didn't follow a constitutional amendment that says it can't draw districts intended to protect incumbents or members of a certain political party. read more »

Politically safe lawmakers see no shutdown urgency

10/03/2013
WASHINGTON (AP) - The government shutdown could last for many days or even weeks because politically safe lawmakers in both parties feel little pressure to compromise.

Heavily gerrymandered districts make many House Democrats and Republicans virtual shoo-ins for re-election, insulating them from everything but the views in their slice of the country. That means some lawmakers can be greeted as heroes back home even if nationally the budget standoff comes to be viewed with scorn. read more »

Lawyers in voter-redistricting suit make their cases to the Florida Supreme Court

09/16/2013
Tallahassee | A coalition of groups think that lawmakers should answer questions under oath about behind-the-scenes chatter that helped shape Florida's political districts.

Attorneys for the state of Florida say that can't happen under Florida's constitution.

The decision will be made by the Florida Supreme Court, which on Monday heard oral arguments in the case. The dispute stems from a larger lawsuit challenging new political lines lawmakers approved in 2012. read more »

Legislators Skirt Fair Districts Law

09/16/2013
In 2010, Floridians issued a direct edict to their elected leaders: End the political gamesmanship that has surrounded the drawing of voting-district lines for decades.

But this is Florida and legislators can really slow things down when change interferes with their parties' interests.

So, three years later, legislative leaders are still trying to hide their actions surrounding redistricting from the public view. They dismiss criticism of their failure to abide by the Florida voters' mandate for the Fair Districts constitutional amendment, approved in 2010, as party politics. read more »

Editorial: In voting district case, legislators should testify

09/16/2013
Can Florida legislators be forced to testify to determine what they intended when they redrew district lines and whether they violated a constitutional amendment approved by the voters? That was the difficult question before the Florida Supreme Court on Monday, and several justices sounded skeptical about requiring that legislators provide sworn testimony on their actions during a redistricting process. But in a state with a long, sorry history of gerrymandering and new rules in the state Constitution to prevent it, the court should not let lawmakers hide behind their offices. The public interest in fair elections and upholding the state Constitution outweighs concerns that legislative activity might be chilled by the possibility of being hauled into court. read more »

Lawyers in voter-redistricting suit make their cases to the Florida Supreme Court

09/16/2013
Tallahassee | A coalition of groups think that lawmakers should answer questions under oath about behind-the-scenes chatter that helped shape Florida's political districts.

Attorneys for the state of Florida say that can't happen under Florida's constitution. read more »

Maps Under Fire - Capital News Service

09/16/2013
The Florida Supreme Court was asked today to compel legislative leaders to disclose their conversations with political consultants before they drew new political boundaries. The once a decade redrawing of maps was supposed to be different in 2012 because of the Fair Districts Amendment, but the amendments sponsor believes lawmakers violated the citizen mandate. read more »

Supreme court weighs putting legislators under oath on redistricting

09/16/2013
Florida's Supreme Court justices engaged in a vigorous dialogue with lawyers on Monday as they were asked to rule on a precedent-setting question: Should state lawmakers and their staffs be forced to answer questions and turn over documents about the redistricting process?

The Legislature argues that it has turned over more than 30,000 documents in the legal challenges to the state Senate and congressional maps, and that the separation of powers in the state and federal Constitutions shield them from being subjected to questioning about the legislative decision-making process, known as legislative privilege. read more »

Fla. Supreme Court hears arguments over whether legislators must testify in legal battle

09/16/2013
TALLAHASSEE, Florida — The Florida Supreme Court was asked on Monday to sort out another bitter dispute in the protracted legal battle over Florida's legislative and Congressional districts.
Groups suing over the way legislators drew up new districts for the state Senate and Congress want to interview legislators about why they made certain decisions. But lawyers for the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature said such a move would violate a long-standing privilege that shields legislators from testifying in lawsuits. read more »

JUSTICES WRESTLE WITH LEGISLATIVE PRIVILEGE

09/16/2013
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE - A coalition of voting-rights groups trying to get lawmakers to testify about the 2012 redistricting process asked a skeptical Supreme Court on Monday to rule that legislators should not be shielded from speaking in court.

Those challenging new district maps under the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" constitutional amendments are appealing a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling that prevents the legislators who drew the districts from having to testify about "objective" facts about the redistricting process.
read more »

DOCUMENTS OFFER PORTRAIT OF CONSULTANTS' REDISTRICTING EFFORTS

09/11/2013
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, As Florida lawmakers, politicos and voters held a public discussion about the once-a-decade redistricting process in 2011 and 2012, Republican consultants were quietly and busily drawing maps that they later said were produced largely because of their interest in the process.

Meanwhile, GOP operatives were discussing redistricting with officials in Washington, former Congressman David Rivera was touching base with House leaders, and one consultant was writing to another about an offer of help from "friends with deep pockets." read more »

GOP consultants barred from redistricting only after lack of "privilege," lawsuit finds

09/06/2013
Florida legislators tried to include political consultants in redrawing congressional districts, but barred only them after they found out the conversations would not be protected in court, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

In the transcript, it seems the decision to ban Republican consultants came after lawyers discovered their input would not be considered "privileged." read more »

Former legislative leaders Pruitt, McKay and Thompson weigh into redistricting fight

08/14/2013
TALLAHASSEE — Three of the Florida Legislature's past leaders are weighing into the fight over the state's redrawn political maps, arguing lawmakers would be harmed if they are forced to testify under oath about whether they gerrymandered districts last year.

Former House Speaker James Harold Thompson, former Senate President Ken Pruitt, and former Senate President John McKay asked the Florida Supreme Court on Monday for permission to file a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of the Florida House, which is battling with the Fair Districts backers over re-drawn Senate and congressional districts. On Wednesday, the court agreed to hear them out. read more »

Redistricting lawsuit: Supreme Court hands Legislature second loss in recent weeks

07/11/2013
The Florida Supreme Court has said lower courts have jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of the state's newly-drawn political lines, according to an opinion released Thursday.

It's the latest in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of plaintiffs argue the newly-drawn state Senate maps violate the Fair District amendments, which were designed to take politics out of the redistricting process. Among the coalition are the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida. read more »

Fla. Supreme Court won't stop redistricting challenge

07/11/2013
TALLAHASSSEE — The Florida Supreme Court is refusing to throw out a lawsuit that contends that state legislators ignored new standards while drawing up legislative districts.

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature wanted the state high court to block a challenge to last year's new map for state Senate districts. read more »

Supreme Court rules against Legislature in redistricting case

07/11/2013
The 47-page opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente,rejected the Legislature's arguments on at least six separate grounds. Justices said their initial 30-day review of the maps in 2012, as required by the Constitution, was a "facial" review based on limited evidence before the court. "Our facial review left open the possibility of future fact-intensive claims and did not preclude the future discovery or development of evidence," Pariente wrote.

The 30-day review approved the map of all 120 House seats, but justices found serious deficiencies in several Senate districts. A redrawn Senate map subsequently won the court's approval. read more »

COURT: CHALLENGE TO SENATE MAPS CAN GO FORWARD

07/11/2013
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, July 11, 2013..........In a precedent-setting opinion, a divided Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursdaythat a trial weighing the constitutionality of new state Senate districts can move forward, rejecting the Legislature's argument that the maps were shielded from further challenges.

The 5-2 ruling, which fell along common ideological lines on the court, allows a coalition of voting-rights groups to continue trying to prove that the Senate maps drawn in 2012 violate the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" standards added to the Florida Constitution two years earlier. read more »

Fla. Supreme Court to hear redistricting suit

07/03/2013
TALLAHASSEE —
The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing a case about redrawing district lines that went into effect last year.

The League of Women Voters is arguing Wednesday that some top lawmakers, when they drew the redistricting maps that took effect in 2012, did so with the intention of holding onto their elective offices by ensuring there were enough like-minded voters in their district to continue to elect them.

If that is true, it might violate the intent of the Fair Districts amendment passed by voters in 2010.

If those lawmakers are forced to testify, it could reveal some details about what lawmakers knew when they drew those maps. read more »

Court agrees to hear appeal of ruling shielding legislators from redistricting testimony

07/02/2013
In what promises to be a precedent-setting ruling over whether legislators can be shielded from testifying in a redistricting case, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hear a redistricting challenge brought by the League of Women Voters.

The League is asking the court to review an appellate court decision issued in May that allows legislators to be shielded from turning over documents and being questioned under oath by lawyers in a redistricting challenge. read more »

Court Case Reveals More Evidence that Florida Lawmakers Gamed Redistricting

06/24/2013
BRADENTON - Newly released records in a court case involving Florida's congressional and legislative redistricting show that an aide to former House Speaker Dean Cannon released Congressional maps to a GOP operative weeks before they were made available to the public.

The records are being used in a legal battle over whether legislators followed the 2010 Fair District reforms when they drew the latest districting maps. They include a May deposition of Republican political consultant Marc Reichelderfer, along with emails from to Reichelderfer in late 2011 from Cannon's aide, Kirk Pepper. read more »

Documents show redistricting map talk between GOP and consultants

06/20/2013
Documents released Thursday in a wide-ranging lawsuit over last year's redistricting effort raise more questions about communication between Florida Republicans and party consultants over proposed maps, possibly in violation of the state constitution.

In a deposition given last month, campaign consultant Marc Reichelderfer acknowledged having received draft versions of proposed congressional redistricting plans from Kirk Pepper, a top aide to then-House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park. read more »

Records show Cannon aide gave redistricting maps to GOP operative before the public

06/20/2013
TALLAHASSEE — New records in a court fight over Florida's re-drawn congressional and legislative maps show an aide to former House Speaker Dean Cannon released congressional maps to a Republican operative two weeks before they were made public.

The records, a May deposition of GOP political consultant Marc Reichelderfer along with emails from Cannon aide Kirk Pepper to Reichelderfer in late 2011, are being used by Fair Districts supporters in a legal battle over whether ruling Republican legislators followed the 2010 anti-gerrymandering reforms when they drew the maps. read more »

Supreme Court agrees to expedite briefs in redistricting case

06/17/2013
The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to partly expedite the review of the redistricting challenge brought by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of individuals and voter groups this month by giving the parties until June 21 to file their briefs.

The court did not say whether it would also conduct an expedited hearing in the case, thereby interrupting the court's traditional summer break, but it did not deny the request for the fast-track hearing either.
read more »

Map Opponents Push Forward On Legal Challenge

06/05/2013
Attorneys for critics of the state's congressional redistricting process are pushing forward on two fronts, appealing a ruling that would shield lawmakers from talking about the drawing of the maps and asking a judge for additional penalties on a consulting firm that has already been found in contempt in the case. read more »

Fair Districts groups ask Supreme Court to force lawmakers to testify

06/04/2013
TALLAHASSEE — The coalition of voting-rights groups suing the Florida Legislature over last year's redistricting maps are asking the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether to force lawmakers to go under oath in the lingering legal battle.

The Fair Districts plaintiffs, which include the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, asked the Florida Supreme Court this week to step into a fight over whether lawmakers and their staff can be deposed in a legal challenge to the Senate and congressional maps. read more »

Redistricting fight has politicos scared of disclosure. Good

05/31/2013
My favorite blog post this week comes from Jacksonville's Matt Dixon, who wrote about how a growing number of politicians, operatives and all-around hacks are about to pee their pants, scared to death that their actions in the redistricting scam may be revealed.

Good. Jack Nicholson's Joker once said Gotham needed an enema. What Tallahassee needs is a whole lot of sunlight ... and probably disinfectant.

In his post — "After giving judge nearly 1,900 pages of records, GOP firm warns of 'chilling effect' if they are made public" — Dixon highlighted a particularly frantic and hyperbolic affadvit by GOP operative Pat Bainter, begging the court not to make him and the other operatives tell the public what they did and why they did it. read more »

Redistricting battle returns to Florida Supreme Court

05/09/2013
TALLAHASSEE — The Legislature and the League of Women Voters squared off Thursday before the Florida Supreme Court over the behind-the-scenes politics that led to the 2012 remapping of legislative districts by Republican lawmakers.

The Legislature argues that the Supreme Court should assert its "sole and exclusive jurisdiction" over redistricting and direct a lower court to dismiss a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters. That lawsuit challenges the validity of the House and Senate maps the Supreme Court blessed last year. read more »

Editorial: Email exchanges raise questions about Republican leaders and Florida's congressional redistricting

03/14/2013
The musical chairs played out last year in the campaigns for Congress in South Florida and the Treasure Coast largely were in response to newly drawn state voting districts. Emails released this month raise questions about the openness and transparency of the process used in creating those districts. read more »

Florida Redistricting Scandal Proves Democracy Cannot be Trusted to Politicians

02/07/2013
It appears that there is now clear evidence of what everyone who followed the once-in-a-decade state legislative redistricting process already knew: despite a new constitutional amendment forbidding legislators from basing boundaries on political calculations, that is exactly what they did. What's more, the audaciously brazen manner in which they disregarded the will of their constituents demonstrates a complete disregard for the democratic process that must be meaningfully corrected. read more »

Editorial: Truly fair districts

02/07/2013
If you can't win fair and square, change the rules.

That seems to be the motto in Republican-led efforts to change election laws, such as limiting early voting and altering the way that states award Electoral College votes. read more »

In Florida, An Email Trail On Redistricting Raises Questions

02/05/2013
A lawsuit over congressional district lines in Florida produces emails showing coordination between lawmakers and Republican Party officials, which is prohibited by the state Constitution.

So what did lawmakers in Tallahassee do? The Republican leaders in charge of drawing new maps coordinated with Republican Party consultants to protect Republican incumbents.Florida voters in 2010 approved constitutional amendments by nearly 2-to-1 margins that forbade state legislators from coordinating wi read more »

Legislative Redistricting Staff Used Private Emails to Coordinate With State GOP

02/05/2013
Amid a legal fight between voting groups and GOP lawmakers in Tallahassee, new evidence shows that the leaders of a redistricting effort last year allowed their staffs to use private email addresses and personal file sharing accounts to swap information with consultants from the Republican Party of Florida. The communications helped legislative staffers draw up districts friendly to Republican candidates — a violation of a constitutional prohibition of coordination with political parties. read more »

In Florida, An Email Trail On Redistricting Raises Questions

02/05/2013
Florida voters in 2010 approved constitutional amendments by nearly 2-to-1 margins that forbade state legislators from coordinating with political parties or favoring incumbents when drawing new congressional districts.

So what did lawmakers in Tallahassee do? The Republican leaders in charge of drawing new maps coordinated with Republican Party consultants to protect Republican incumbents. read more »

E-mails show plotting by lawmakers, GOP on Florida redistricting

02/05/2013
TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislative leaders appear to have authorized staff members to use private email accounts and had "brainstorming meetings" with Republican Party consultants to attempt to draw favorable political districts, despite a constitutional ban on such coordination.
The allegations arise from a lawsuit challenging the Senate and congressional redistricting that include emails showing how top aides to House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and several Gaetz consultants were in frequent contact with operatives who drafted and analyzed maps. read more »

Emails raise questions about Fla. redistricting

02/04/2013
New documents are raising questions about whether Florida legislators ignored rules intended to prevent political parties and incumbents from influencing the once-a-decade process of redistricting.

Emails show that top Republican Party of Florida officials met in late 2010 to "brainstorm" redistricting with political consultants and legislative employees involved in drawing new districts for Congress and the Legislature. read more »

8 Years to Reform Redistricting in the United States

01/24/2013
Since the official results of the election have been published, a lot has been said about the disparity between the popular vote in which the Democratic House candidates received a majority of the votes and the results that gave the House to the GOP. Attempts to reform redistricting are becoming more popular, as the practice of manipulating redistricting significantly damages the democratic political process. read more »

JUDGE REFUSES TO DISMISS FLA. REDISTRICTING CASE

01/22/2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A judge is refusing to dismiss a pair of challenges to the Florida Senate's redistricting map.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis in Tallahassee on Thursday rejected the state's argument that only the Florida Supreme Court can decide legislative redistricting cases, saying that ``flies in the face of case law.''
read more »

Senate Map Challenge Allowed To Continue; Lawmakers To Testify About Drawing Districts

01/18/2013
The lawmakers who re-drew Florida's Senate districts last year will now have to testify in court, after a circuit judge ruled a lawsuit could continue on Thursday. The Florida Legislature wanted the judge to toss out the challenge, which alleges the maps were drawn to favor Republicans.

Last year was the first time the state got new districts since voters passed what are called the FairDistricts Amendments in 2010. They forbid lawmakers from intending to favor one political party over another. read more »

Redistricting Case Challenging Senate's Map To Continue

01/18/2013
A judge is refusing to dismiss a pair of challenges to the Florida Senate's redistricting map.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis in Tallahassee on Thursday rejected the state's argument that only the Florida Supreme Court can decide legislative redistricting cases, saying that "flies in the face of case law. read more »

Judge rejects Legislature's request to dismiss challenge to Senate redistricting plan

01/17/2013
A Leon County judge has rejected a request from the Legislature to dismiss a challenge to a Senate redistricting plan approved last year, the first ruling in what could be a precedent-setting case under the new Fair Districts standards.

A spokeswoman for Senate President Don Gaetz suggested an appeal was inevitable. read more »

Judge rejects request to toss Florida Senate redistricting plan

01/17/2013
TALLAHASSEE - A Leon County judge has rejected a request from the Legislature to dismiss a challenge to a Senate redistricting plan approved last year, the first ruling in what could be a precedent-setting case under the new Fair Districts standards. read more »

Judge refuses to toss challenge to Senate redistricting maps

01/17/2013
TALLAHASSEE — Although Floridians have voted and a new state Legislature has moved into the Capitol, voting-rights groups are still challenging the GOP-drawn state Senate redistricting maps — and on Thursday, a Leon County refused lawmakers' request to dismiss the case. read more »

Republicans Brag They Won House Majority Because Of Gerrymandering

01/17/2013
In a classic Kinsley gaffe, the Republican State Leadership Committee released a report boasting that the only reason the GOP controls the House of Representatives is because they gerrymandered congressional districts in blue states. read more »

STATE ASKS JUDGE TO TOSS SENATE MAP CHALLENGE

12/19/2012
Lawyers for the Legislature asked a Leon County judge on Wednesday to throw out a lawsuit seeking to scrap the current districts for the Senate because the Florida Supreme Court had already rejected a challenge to the lines.

The dispute, in a case filed by a group of citizens and a coalition of voting rights groups against the Senate map, plows new ground and could set a standard in a redistricting environment altered by the approval in 2010 of the "Fair Districts" amendments aimed at ending gerrymandered districts. read more »

More Redistricting Ahead in Texas, Maybe Florida

12/05/2012
A handful of members shouldn't get too comfortable in the districts where they just won. Those districts might be changing soon.
Texas, Florida and a few other states could have different congressional maps by November 2014.


"The one state with congressional lines that we still absolutely know have to be redrawn is Texas," said Justin Levitt, a redistricting expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "In other states, there are a few legal challenges still pending." read more »

Florida Democrats chip away at GOP power in Tallahassee

11/08/2012
"Tuesday's results were a pivot toward equilibrium. . . . The gains in the House and Senate mean Republicans no longer have a veto-proof supermajority in either chamber." read more »

Why We Need Redistricting Reform

11/08/2012
On November 7, Americans woke up again to a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And whether they like it or not, Americans should get used to this leadership. Republican control of the lower chamber could extend well past the 113th Congress, thanks in part to the once-a-decade process of redistricting.

What this means for federal lawmaking, we have yet to see. But understanding how the Republican party locked in their control of the House is instructive — especially as we reflect on the election, and as we consider reforms that allow voters to choose their leaders, instead of the other way around. read more »

Floridians vote for centrist, sensible government

11/07/2012
"The first election with new redistricting rules also means the incoming Legislature will better reflect the state's more moderate makeup. Florida turned an even deeper shade of purple Tuesday, and it will be better for it'". read more »

Despite changes, not much different in the state Legislature

11/07/2012
Democratic strategists point toward 2014 and beyond when the full impact of the Fair Districts amendments may be felt. Florida was one of the last states in the country to approve its redistricting maps in April, giving candidates only a couple months to decide when and where to run.

"There were literally dozens of races within a few points," said former Miami Beach legislator Dan Gelber, a lawyer for the Fair Districts Florida group suing to invalidate the state Senate and congressional maps. "That's what the standards were supposed to deliver - competition rather than candidates drawing safe seats." read more »

New redistricting challenge targets Senate seats

09/05/2012
The League of Women Voters of Florida and two other groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday that accuses the Legislature of protecting incumbents in the redrawing of Senate seats, in violation of the fair districts amendments to the state Constitution.

The groups filed the lawsuit in circuit court in Tallahassee. It focuses largely on changes that affected Tampa Bay, suburban Orlando and the city of Daytona Beach, and claims three Tampa Bay Senate seats (Districts 17, 19 and 22) were gerrymandered to help Republicans. In other districts, the lawsuit alleges, Republicans packed as many Democrats together as possible. read more »

Senate failed; court must act

04/25/2012
If the Florida Supreme Court draws the state Senate map, don't blame judicial activism. Blame political resistance read more »

Florida Senate's brazen redistricting trickery fails

03/15/2012
Upon deeper review of the Florida Supreme Court decision on Friday invalidating the state Senate's redistricting plan, a startling fact came to light: the Republican-dominated chamber's brazen and arrogant attempt at protecting incumbents through the district numbering system.

read more »

Lawmakers set timetable for new Senate maps

03/15/2012
TALLAHASSEE — The Legislature convened an extra-innings "extraordinary" session Wednesday to redraw its state Senate map after the Florida Supreme Court decided its lines violated the new anti-gerrymandering law by favoring incumbents. read more »

Editorial: Senate's task is clear

03/14/2012
As the Florida Senate opens its special session on redistricting today, it must do what it failed to do previously: Draw 40 Senate district maps that conform to the Florida Constitution.



read more »

Senate defied state's voters

03/13/2012
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court correctly slapped down the Florida Senate's new political map, and much of the slapping concerned Palm Beach County.

Amendments 5 and 6, which voters approved in 2010, forbid the Legislature from drawing districts to benefit incumbents. Senate leaders treated that demand the way Hugo Chavez treats popular dissent: They ignored it. The Senate map, the court majority noted, is "rife with improper intent" to benefit incumbents. read more »

Our Take: Redistricting Ruling

03/10/2012
Vindication for voters

Florida's state senators flouted the will of the people when they redrew their districts. Fortunately, the state Supreme Court didn't let them get away with it.

The high court's 5-2 ruling Friday, rejecting the Senate map, will force a do-over. The majority found that eight of the districts didn't comply with the anti-gerrymandering standards that 63 percent of voters approved in 2010. read more »

LAWMAKERS LAY OUT PLANS FOR REDISTRICTING SESSION

03/10/2012
Shortly after the curtain came down on the 2012 regular legislative session, lawmakers were already considering the contours of the redistricting session that will begin Wednesday.

And they already have some ideas about the scope of the changes to the Senate plan, the only one struck down by the Florida Supreme Court, and the role of the House in recasting the lines to the court's liking. Both will be limited. read more »

Florida Supreme Court Throws out Senate Redistricting Map Special session looms

03/10/2012
BRADENTON - The Florida Supreme Court ruled the legislature's Senate redistricting map unconstitutional on Friday, which was the last day of the 2012 session. The court ruled 5-2 that 8 of the 40 redrawn districts violated the Fair Districts Amendment voters passed in 2010.

The justices ruled that various districts violated the Fair Districts law by favoring incumbents, not being compact or failing to follow the prescribed methods for boundaries. Others were in violation for intentionally packing minorities into districts. read more »

Supreme Court rejects Senate redistricting plan, validates House lines

03/10/2012
The Florida Supreme Court, in a much-awaited ruling, this morning invalidated the Legislature's redistricting plan for state Senate lines.

Its 234-page ruling upheld as valid the plan submitted for state House districts. House Speaker Dean Cannon told members - meeting on the final day of this year's regular session - that a special session would be scheduled to redraw the Senate lines.

All seven justices concurred, at least in part with the redistricting ruling, but they broke along familiar lines about the ruling that rejected the Senate plan. read more »

Editorial: The new rules

03/10/2012
The Florida Legislature has pretty much always undertaken its once-every-decade redistricting chore with two paramount objectives: To protect incumbents and to keep the ruling party in power read more »

Gaetz on Redistricting Ruling: 'Our Place isn't to Argue with the Court'

03/09/2012
Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has been leading redistricting in the Florida Senate and he weighed in on Friday afternoon on a state Supreme Court decision that found that eight of the 40 Senate seats his committee drew up did not pass constitutional muster. read more »

A victory to preserve voters' will

03/09/2012
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday followed the will of the voters who demanded more reasonably drawn legislative districts. The court's landmark redistricting opinion thoughtfully defined the constitutional amendment approved in 2010 and invalidated new state Senate districts for clearly failing to meet those requirements. This is a victory for Floridians who want fair elections and a sound defeat for drawing maps that rig the outcomes and protect incumbents. read more »

Legislators sent back to drawing board for Senate map

03/09/2012
In a historic ruling that could shape state politics for decades, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday tossed out the proposed state Senate legislative map, forcing lawmakers to start over in a special session next Wednesday.

In the detailed 234-page majority opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente, the court voted 7-0 to validate the House's redistricting proposal, but rejected the Senate map, 5-2, for failing to follow new standards approved by voters in 2010.

Late Friday night, Gov. Rick Scott ordered lawmakers to return to Tallahassee for a special redistricting session, beginning Wednesday at 1 p.m. The Legislature will then have 14 days to redraw maps and return them to the court, leaving in limbo the Senate's 40 district boundaries. read more »

Court rejects Senate redistricting

03/09/2012
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court dealt a blow Friday to the Senate redistricting plan, ruling that the maps that chamber crafted were "constitutionally invalid." The court also unanimously ruled that political lines drawn by the House pass constitutional muster. read more »

Florida Supreme Court throws out Senate redistricting plan

03/09/2012
On the last day of a once-a-decade redistricting legislative session, the Florida Supreme Court officially ordered overtime Friday by ruling that the re-drawn state Senate map failed to follow new anti-gerrymandering standards.

The high court decided in a 5-2 ruling that 8 of the Senate's 40 re-drawn districts violated the new Fair Districts standards, a move that will force lawmakers to return to work — possibly within days — to take another crack at the maps. The court also decided unanimously that the House maps did comply with the new Fair Districts standards. read more »

Electoral Reform Becomes a Hot Issue in Florida

02/04/2012

Florida League of Women National Council of La Raza and Common Cause Letter to Chairman Weatherford

01/26/2012
Dear Chairman Weatherford:

Thank you for your letter, which we received late in the evening of January 24, 2012, inviting us to participate in your meeting on January 27, 2012. We are pleased that the Committee will consider our proposals for Florida's Congressional and House districts at that meeting, but regret that the Committee will not consider our proposed Senate districts. As you know, our proposed House districts are nested within our proposed Senate districts. Thus, it is critical to consider the two proposals together. read more »

Fair Districts Now Petition Delivery to Gov. Rick Scott

01/01/2012

Fla. Redistricting Process Getting Heated

11/21/2011
The holidays are shaping up to be a busy time for Florida lawmakers. With the annual legislative session starting two months early, they're focusing on the task of redrawing the state's political maps, but the process is already behind schedule. read more »

Redistricting, a Devil's Dictionary

11/02/2011
Redistricting should be a way of ensuring your vote counts. If all districts have roughly the same number of people in them and are drawn to respect natural communities — neighborhoods where people share a heritage, work in the same industry, or just generally feel tied to their neighbors — voters have a chance to be represented by politicians who represent their areas' collective interests read more »

Editorial: Legal efforts by Florida House of Representatives to quash Fair Districts amendments expensive, unseemly

10/20/2011
What's wrong with this picture?

Everything.

In November, 63 percent of Florida voters approved the "Fair Districts" amendments. Among other things, these citizen-sponsored initiatives are designed to restrict political gerrymandering of state legislative (Amendment 5) and congressional (Amendment 6) districts, make districts follow natural boundaries wherever possible, and ensure districts do not favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent. read more »

Florida Legislature to Appeal Voters' Redistricting Victory - Using Their Money!

10/04/2011
Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon has announced that he will join the legal efforts of Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) in appealing the decision of a federal judge in Miami who threw out their original suit. read more »

Fla. House still fighting redistricting amendment

09/29/2011
The Florida House is appealing a court ruling upholding an anti-gerrymandering amendment to the state constitution.


read more »

Obey court, and the people

09/15/2011
The first sentence of the Florida Constitution reads: "All political power is inherent in the people." A federal judge understands. So should some of the politicians who supposedly represent the people of Florida. read more »

Court Rules for People over Politicians

09/09/2011
Miami - This morning Federal Judge Ursula Ungaro threw out a suit that attempted to hold FairDistricts Amendment 6 unconstitutional. The Florida House of Representatives and two members of Congress, Corinne Brown and Mario Diaz Balart brought the case in a blatant attempt to avoid having to follow the fairness standards for redistricting passed by 63% of Florida voters last November.

read more »

Legislators hear drumbeat of complaints over timeline, cost of redistricting

08/28/2011
Florida legislators bring the contentious redistricting road show to the western half of the state this week as they work to persuade doubters that they really aren't interested in drawing legislative maps to neither protect themselves nor their parties. read more »

Speed up redistricting

08/21/2011
OUR OPINION: Current schedule risks chaos in 2012

It's hard to take the process seriously when the very people who get to decide are the ones with a vested interest in the outcome — the ones who sued to stop voters' will. It is difficult to have faith in the process when the Florida House has spent nearly $1 million to fight the amendments they now promise to abide by.

It looks more like Florida legislators are deliberately stalling, which the committee's own attorney said will create chaos in the 2012 elections. The Florida League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Democracia USA and Common Cause have asked the committee to pick up its pace, and legislators should listen. Our democratic system is at stake.





read more »

Florida Lawmakers Stall Redistricting

08/18/2011
Legislators' summer-long, 26-city, all-expenses-paid-by-taxpayers "listening tour" is carefully designed to unnecessarily delay the redistricting process. With the current schedule, it is highly likely that candidates will not know their districts until after the filing deadline, which will not give voters enough time to get to know the candidates before Election Day. In the words of the Legislature's own attorney, Miguel de Grandy, the present time line will create "chaos and confusion in the 2012 elections." read more »

Florida's Redistricting Process: The Power and Diversity of One Person, One Vote

08/14/2011
MIAMI - Every ten years, the Florida Legislature reshapes the districts of political boundary lines of every state legislative and congressional district in the State. This process is critical to your single vote and your expected representation at the state and federal levels. read more »

Florida League of Women Voters, Democracia, Common Cause and the Florida NAACP Letter to Florida Legislature

08/10/2011
Gentlemen:

We urge you to adopt a timeline for redistricting that makes sense for Florida. Failure to approve maps in early January 2012 will most assuredly delay final approval of new districts until close to election day thus causing massive voter confusion and precluding organized, thoughtful elections. We are also concerned that the present timeline does not allow for public comment or input on the maps that will actually be considered by the Legislature.

read more »

Stop wasting money fighting redistricting

08/06/2011
State lawmakers have been hearing the same message at hearings across the state on reapportionment.

Stand and deliver on implementing the Fair Districts amendments that require the Legislature to draw congressional and legislative districts that are geographically logical and compact, respect municipal boundaries and preserve traditional minority neighborhoods. read more »

Subverting the will of people with false claims

07/31/2011
Honest Abe would be appalled. The party of Lincoln here in Florida has not been entirely honest with citizens in its zeal to consolidate control in Tallahassee.

Like a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a party in power tends to stay in power — especially since the party gets to determine legislative and congressional boundaries every decade based on new census figures. read more »

Residents take to streets; Dorworth took to Facebook

07/28/2011
It's alive!

Citizen activism and public interest, that is.

When Florida legislators swung through town this week, hundreds of Central Floridians poured into the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre to demand that politicians treat them, their money and democracy with more respect. read more »

Sen. Alan Hays claims tax dollars not being used to sue voters on redistricting amendment

07/20/2011
The Truth-O-Meter Says:



"Your tax dollars are not being used to sue you, the people."
Alan Hays on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 in a public hearing about redistricting read more »

Maps crafted by political insiders affect all Floridians

07/17/2011
Politicians look to create districts that help themselves and their parties

It's little-known outside the world of political insiders — but it has an effect on everyone in Florida.

"Redistricting is one of the craziest things that will ever happen in Tallahassee," said state Sen. Chris Smith, a Democrat who represents Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The once-a-decade redrawing of the lines for voting districts, said South Florida pollster and political analyst Jim Kane, "is probably the most important decision that Florida will do in the next 10 years, politically speaking." read more »

Public meetings on political redistricting won't include maps

07/10/2011
State lawmakers will be in Daytona Beach on Tuesday night to hold one in a series of public hearings to gather input on how to draw new lines for state and congressional voting districts.

Since nearly 63 percent of Florida voters indicated last fall they want compact districts that follow city boundaries as much as possible and don't favor incumbents or a political party, this should be easy, right? read more »

State lawmakers begin reapportionment road show

07/05/2011
State lawmakers insist they are following the letter of the law, and the will of the people, on redistricting. They say so even as they're poised to fight a very popular constitutional amendment requiring new congressional and legislative boundaries be drawn with competition in mind, not lawmakers' own job security.
read more »

The Malarkey Meter takes on the spending of your money to try to overturn your Fair Districts vote

07/01/2011

Weatherford denies $30 million pot exists for redistricting

06/28/2011
The Truth-O-Meter Says:



Redistricting will be a messy battle in 2012. And that means legislators need money to protect their turf. But how much have they set aside to wage the war? read more »

Florida's gerrymandered districts ensure re-election

06/26/2011
When it comes to politicians gaming the system, pictures present the clearest picture.

The congressional districts that slice apart Central Florida look as if they were drawn by a blindfolded toddler. In reality, these districts were drawn with painstaking — and nefarious — precision.

Small towns were sliced into two, three, even four pieces by politicians who hand-selected the voters most likely to help them and their buddies win and keep offices.

Check out the map of Winter Park. This small city has four different congressional districts.

Why? Because Republican politicians don't want black Democrats in their districts. Nor do the liberals want rural conservatives. So the politicians form unholy alliances. And it works.

In 2004, after the last time the Florida Legislature drew new lines, not a single legislative or congressional incumbent in the entire state lost a bid for re-election.
read more »

Florida Begins Redistricting Hearings

06/23/2011
Florida is holding hearings as it begins redistricting — drawing up new congressional and Legislative district maps. Democrats see it as a chance to make gains in a state now firmly under Republican control. Because of population growth, Florida is picking up two Congressional seats. And a new state law requires that maps be drawn in a way that doesn't favor incumbents. It all sets the stage for a high-stakes political and legal battle that may not be settled in time for next year's primary. read more »

Residents speak out at redistricting hearing

06/22/2011
PANAMA CITY — Panhandle residents said they want fair representation in state and federal government, but there was some disagreement Wednesday on the best way to ensure it.
read more »

Video: Florida Redistricting Public Hearing In Panama City 5pm

06/22/2011

Florida Redistricting Battles Heat-Up

06/21/2011
With a new constitutional mandate to draw fairer legislative and congressional districts, Florida lawmakers this week are launching a 26-stop road show to begin the once-a-decade chore of rejiggering the state's political lines. read more »

Florida League of Women Voters, Democracia, Common Cause Florida and the Florida NAACP Letter to Florida Legislature

06/14/2011
Gentlemen:

On November 2, 2010, 63% of Florida voters demonstrated their strong desire to reform Florida's redistricting process by voting for the Fair Districts constitutional amendments. The amendments, at their core, simply require that you draw districts fairly without intent to favor incumbent politicians or political parties.
read more »

Press Release

06/14/2011
- Groups Express Deep Concerns about Redistricting Timeline, Gag Order to Legislators and Use of Taxpayer Money to Oppose the FairDistricts Amendments -

read more »

FairDistricts - Hold Them Accountable

06/14/2011
The FairDistricts Amendments overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters have now been approved by the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Department of Justice. The amendments require that the legislative redistricting committee strictly adhere to "compact, contiguous" districts ending gerrymandering by political parties. read more »

Redistricting group calls Fla. hearings 'sham'

06/14/2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A group trying to prevent gerrymandering says upcoming public hearings on redistricting are a "sham." Fair Districts Now leaders said Tuesday that's because lawmakers won't present any proposed maps for citizens to comment on. read more »

Redistricting advocates protest delay and gagging of legislators during hearings

06/14/2011
In a letter to House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos this morning, the League of Women Voters, NAACP, Common Cause, Democracia and other advocacy groups working with the Democrat-backed Fair Districts Florida, strongly protested the gag rule imposed by the leaders on legislature during hearings next week in which they are prohibited from discussing maps or even speaking out.
read more »

Florida public redistricting process dogged by transparency questions

06/14/2011
An "unprecedented" part of "the most open, transparent, interactive" redistricting process ever, or a "sham" designed by Florida lawmakers to placate the public while they work to draw new district lines to benefit themselves? That's the question dogging the set of 24 public redistricting hearings scheduled by the state Legislature to kick off next week. read more »

FairDistricts leaders ask for changes in redistricting meetings

06/14/2011
Fair Districts, a grassroots group that successfully pushed for new constitutional provisions last year that dictate redistricting, is asking the Legislature to revamp the procedures it has set out for 26 redistricting hearings that are set to be held around the state this summer. read more »

Groups call for Florida lawmakers to speed up redistricting

06/14/2011
Supporters of a new set of constitutional standards for redistricting are calling on lawmakers to accelerate the once-a-decade process of redrawing the state lines and remove a "gag order" they say has been placed on legislators ahead of next week's launch of public hearings.

The organizations — including the state NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Hispanic advocacy group Democracia and Common Cause Florida — also asked the House to drop out of a lawsuit brought by two members of Congress asking a federal court to toss one of the amendments to the Florida Constitution passed in November. read more »

Redistricting group calls Fla. hearings 'charade'

06/14/2011
Upcoming public hearings across Florida on legislative and congressional redistricting are a "charade" because lawmakers have yet to draw up any proposed maps that citizens can comment upon, a coalition dedicated to preventing gerrymandering declared Tuesday.

Fair Districts Now held a teleconference with reporters and sent a letter urging leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature to include maps at the hearings. It also asked them to speed up the redistricting process so a review by the U.S. Justice Department and likely court appeals can be completed before candidates begin qualifying a year from now.


read more »

FairDistricts groups call upcoming redistricting hearings a 'charade'

06/14/2011
TALLAHASSEE - Backers of constitutional amendments designed to prevent political gerrymandering in the redistricting process called upcoming public hearings a "charade" on Tuesday because lawmakers won't release a map of proposed new legislative and congressional districts until next year. read more »

Our views: It's your democracy Hold Florida lawmakers accountable to draw fair state districts

06/09/2011
Now is the time for Florida voters to hold the Legislature accountable to obey the state Constitution on the critical issue of
redistricting.

Enshrined in the document since the 2010 elections are two Fair Districts amendments that require lawmakers, using 2010 Census data, to redraw legislative and U.S. congressional districts in a nonpartisan way before the 2012 elections. read more »

IN OUR OPINION Editorial: Fighting for fair

06/06/2011
The proponents of fair congressional and legislative districts — including almost two-thirds of the Floridians who voted last November — got good news last week from the U.S. Department of Justice: The agency found no reason why the Legislature should not use two new state constitutional amendments to guide it in redrawing Florida's political map. read more »

Enough roadblocks: Do the voters' will

06/01/2011
Perhaps now House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos will hear the message that 63 percent of voters delivered unequivocally in November: Florida has new rules for drawing political districts to make them more competitive. It's past time for Cannon, Haridopolos and other Republican leaders to accept that reality and quit throwing up roadblocks. read more »

They use our money to fight us

05/08/2011
Don't worry. Despite the most brutal budget cuts in state history, the taxpayers of Florida still have millions set aside for their epic battle against the taxpayers of Florida.

read more »

Redistricting Rows Not so easy - Republican hopes of snagging extra seats following last year's census look doomed to disappointment

05/05/2011
REDISTRICTING, so the old saying goes, is when politicians get to choose their voters. Every ten years, following the national census, each state must redraw the constituency boundaries for both its members of Congress and its state legislators. In most states, the party in power controls both those processes, either directly through the state legislature or indirectly through the appointment of members to commissions charged with the job. read more »

Florida lawmakers quietly stockpile millions to pay legal fees in upcoming partisan redistricting battle

05/05/2011
TALLAHASSEE — While bemoaning deep cuts to health-care, education and public employee benefits, Florida lawmakers have stockpiled millions of dollars in funds that they control and are packing away even more to pay legal bills as Florida begins the partisan process of redistricting this year. read more »

Republicans mock voters by playing games with redistricting amendments THE ISSUE: Republicans play games with redistricting

05/04/2011
Will state Republicans ever give up their fight against Fair Districts, the constitutional amendments voters overwhelmingly passed in November that could end the incumbent protection program known as gerrymandering?

We wish we could say yes. A few legislators like Will Weatherford, the House's next speaker after Dean Cannon, make us want to imagine that lawmakers could, actually, make peace and honor Amendments 5 and 6. Weatherford, tapped to head the House's redistricting efforts, said this month that he planned to follow the amendments' guidance regardless of whether his party considers them a good idea. read more »

Lawmakers use your cash to overturn your vote

05/01/2011
Right now, legislators are waging a wicked war — against democracy itself.

Sound extreme? Well, consider the following:

They're using your money to pay lawyers $300 an hour to try to overturn one of your votes read more »

Republican-led Legislature get redistricting off to a rocky start

04/30/2011
Will state Republicans ever give up their fight against Fair Districts, the constitutional amendments voters overwhelmingly passed in November that could end the incumbent protection program known as gerrymandering? read more »

Fox can't guard district henhouse

04/11/2011
veryone knows that foxes shouldn't guard henhouses. Everyone, that is, except for the Florida Legislature. As the debate rages over the state's next round of redistricting, the Legislature argues that it can be trusted to draw the new lines fairly. The Legislature also insists that no one else — not even the people — can tell it how to go about its district-drawing business. read more »

Our Opinion: Cross-examining Cannon

04/10/2011
Judicial reform isn't needed; consistent funding is read more »

Critics say lawmakers want to continue gerrymandered districts

03/30/2011
TALLAHASSEE - Florida legislative leaders Mike Haridopolos and Dean Cannon have resubmitted the state's new anti-gerrymandering amendments for federal approval, but in a way that critics say seeks to allow the Legislature to continue drawing districts to benefit Republicans. read more »

Fair Districts Now Petition Delivery to Gov. Rick Scott

03/25/2011

Groups Ask Governor to Stop Playing Politics with the Florida Constitution

03/15/2011
Today, Democracia, Florida League of Women Voters and Florida NAACP sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott urging the re-submission of the FairDistricts amendments to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval. read more »

The Tampa Tribune

03/14/2011
TALLAHASSEE - Despite the impending arrival of the final 2010 Census redistricting data, Gov. Rick Scott still isn't saying when or whether he'll seek federal approval of anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments passed by Florida voters in November.

Scott has previously said the state needed more information, apparently meaning Census information, before seeking that approval. read more »

Malarkey Meter: Is Scott Maxwell full of !@#$?

03/09/2011

Editorial: Stop games on redistricting

03/06/2011
Whatever critics have been able to say about Florida Gov. Rick Scott, it's been hard to slam him for playing "politics as usual."

Except when it comes to redistricting. read more »

Editorial: Legislative session shaping up as test of wills

03/06/2011
Florida could be in store for grand political theater over the next few months once the Legislature convenes Tuesday for its annual session.

With Republicans holding an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate, Democrats could get steamrolled. But the best acts in this play should come from Gov. Rick Scott's relationship with fellow GOP stalwarts. read more »

Wednesday's Daily Pulse

03/03/2011
Florida's Constitution says the Legislature must redraw the state's congressional and legislative district boundaries every 10 years, based on the most recent Census. The 2012 redistricting officially begins now, with new mapping tools for the public and an always-political spin. Here's what to expect this time around.
read more »

You're spending $300 an hour to overturn your own vote

02/10/2011
By now, you probably know that some of your elected officials are fighting to overturn your vote for Fair Districts.

But did you know they're spending your money to do so?

Yes indeed — to the tune of $300-an-hour legal bills. read more »

Redistricting amendment lawsuit drops Voting Rights Act allegation

01/31/2011
In a new court filing, two Congress members who are suing to overturn one of the state's anti-gerrymandering amendments have dropped one of their key allegations in the suit, the claim that the amendments violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act. read more »