UPDATE: Dems outraged over Scott secret withdrawal of redistricting amendmentsby Dara Kam | January 25th, 2011
UPDATE: A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott responded to his withdrawal of redistricting amendments for federal approval.
“Consistent with Governor Scott’s effort to assess the rules, regulations and contracts of the previous administration, he has withdrawn the letter requesting a DOJ review of Amendments 5 and 6. Census data has not been transmitted to the state yet and the Legislature will not undertake redistricting for months, so this withdrawal in no way impedes the process of redrawing Florida’s legislative and congressional districts,” Scott spokesman Brian Hughes said in an e-mail.
In his first few days on the job, Gov.Rick Scott quietly withdrew the state’s request for a federal go-ahead to move forward with two redistricting amendments overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.
Scott sent the request to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has to sign off on any changes to Florida elections laws affecting voters’ rights, on Jan. 7, just two days after he announced the reappointment of Department of State Secretary Kurt Browning. After Browning left Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration last year, he headed up a political committee that fought Amendments 5 and 6, aka the “Fair Districts” amendments. Crist’s temporary secretary of the state department submitted the application for “preclearance” to DOJ officials on Dec. 10
Scott’s move, offered with no explanation to the feds and no public announcement, left Democrats and supporters of the amendments hopping mad, and the state’s top Democrat is demanding Scott resubmit the preclearance application.
“The Governor and Secretary of State have no right to abuse their positions to prevent
implementation of these needed reforms,” FairDistricts Now Board member Leon Russell, also a board member of the NAACP, said in a statement.
“We will do whatever it takes to see to it that the new standards are implemented. We will not
allow our hard earned rights and the clear vote and voice of over 3 million Florida voters to be
eviscerated by those intent on avoiding their constitutional duty to create fairly drawn districts,”
Pamela Goodman, President of FairDistricts Now and Redistricting Chair of the Florida
League of Women’s Voters, said in the same press release.
“By secretly withdrawing Florida’s application for preclearance for the Fair District amendments, the Governor and the Secretary of State are clearly trying to delay and obstruct the will of Floridians who overwhelmingly voted for the constitutional amendments last fall,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said in his statement. “On behalf of all Floridians – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike – I call upon the Governor and Secretary of State to immediately resubmit the application for preclearance.”
And Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich threw this barb at Scott:
“The governor needs to remember that only 48 percent of Floridians voted for his candidacy. The Fair Districts Amendments 5 and 6 passed with 63 percent of the votes cast. If the governor is looking for a mandate, it is undoubtedly the voters’ overwhelming desire to end the ability of lawmakers to draw their district boundaries to their own benefit or that of their party. Clearly, 63 percent of Floridians have had enough of those shenanigans.
“For the governor to shun the will of the majority is unconscionable. For him now to hide behind his ill-advised executive order is absurd. The decision to freeze regulations and contracts has already unleashed a nightmare for those businesses and Floridians eager to ‘get to work.’ Apparently, shutting down jobs was not enough; now he’s shutting down the voice of the people.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Dean Cannon has asked a judge to join a lawsuit against Amendment 6 that deals with Congressional districts. Lawmakers last year tried to put their own redistricting amendment on the ballot to compete with 5 and 6, but the Florida Supreme Court threw it out, ruling it was misleading to voters.
Tags: Charlie Crist, Congressional districts, Dean Cannon, Department of State, elections, Fair Districts, Florida Democratic Party, Florida Department of State, Florida voting rights, Kurt Browning, reapportionment, redistricting, Rick Scott, Rod Smith, voting, voting rights