Every ten years, after the census, the Florida Legislature redraws the boundaries of our Congressional, state house and state senate districts. This was originally intended to be sure that districts are equal in population -- to make sure that every vote counts equally. The Florida Legislature redrew our districts early in 2012.

In the past self-interested politicians hijacked the process by rigging districts for their own political gain. They made deals to draw favorable districts for their allies and they drew their political adversaries out of office. Politicians used sophisticated computers, voter registration data and past election returns to predict how particular voters would vote in the future. Then they chose which voters were most likely to vote for them and their party and placed just enough of those voters into "safe" districts -- ones they were sure they could win. Those in charge also packed large numbers of unfavorable voters in into a few districts to minimize the opposition's chance to win. They rigged districts to keep themselves in power. This was called partisan political gerrymandering. It was like allowing the fox to guard the henhouse or getting to choose your own cards in a poker game! Politicians were choosing their voters instead of voters having a fair chance to choose their representatives. 

Each district was rigged to accomplish a particular result. Districts were set up to be either Democratic or Republican and opposing party candidates or Independents did not have a chance. Voters did not have a real choice in selecting their representatives because the elections were rigged before they even started.

Yes! In November 2010, voters overwhelmingly sent a message to Florida politicians. We passed Amendments 5 and 6 with 63% of the vote! These amendments established rules in the Florida Constitution to stop politicians from designing districts to favor themselves. While carefully protecting the rights of minority voters, the constitution now prohibits political favoritism, requires that districts be compact, contiguous, and follow city or county lines where feasible.

View the Redistricting Provisions of the Florida Constitution

The Tallahassee politicians did not want to follow the constitutional restrictions placed on them by Florida voters. They didn't want to give up the ability to use redistricting as their own job protection plan. These politicians campaigned in opposition to the amendments. Once they lost at the polls, they showed blatant disrespect for the will of the voters and the constitution they have sworn to uphold. The Speaker of the House brought a lawsuit trying to have the new rules set aside. The Governor abused his power by taking steps to delay implementation of the peoples' amendments. And when they drew the new districts – especially Senate and Congressional districts – they simply did not follow the rules. No court has yet ruled on the validity of the Congressional districts. Citizen groups and individuals have brought a challenge in court. And while the Supreme Court threw out a number of Senate districts, there are others that do not comply with the Constitution. They are being challenged in court as well.

We voted YES for Amendments 5 and 6. If the politicians will not accept this, Florida citizens must continue to make their voices heard through legal action until every district is drawn to strictly comply with the law.

The maps are set for 2012 but legal challenges continue. We must now rely on the courts to enforce the standards we worked so hard to pass so that in 2014 and beyond, every Floridian will have the opportunity to vote from districts that fully comply with the constitution.

View the Redistricting Provisions of the Florida Constitution