Voters’ groups want more sunshine on staff work on redistrictingby John Kennedy | March 15th, 2012
Organizations which disputed the Legislature’s first round of redistricting fired off a letter Thursday to Senate Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz urging that he make public the Senate’s latest attempt at redrawing district boundaries.
The League of Women Voters, La Raza and Common Cause-Florida said they were unhappy with Gaetz’s plan to have legislative staffers draw a new map– with the results only made public Saturday when it will be released as a proposal for the full Senate to consider next week.
“Since the Supreme Court expressly found that the original, ‘Senate plan is rife with objective indicators of improper intent,’ it is crucial that the redrafting process be done in the sunshine so that the people of Florida can know the motivations for drawing each line,” the groups wrote in their letter to Gaetz, R-Niceville.
The league, La Raza and Common Cause submitted their own proposed maps, which the Florida Supreme Court used in rejecting the Senate’s plan in a 5-2 ruling last week.
Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the majority, cited several examples where the so-called coalition plan’ included more compact districts and avoided packing minority voters within select boundaries, which the court said appeared aimed at helping incumbents win re-election and the ruling Republican Party maintain its dominance in Tallahassee.
The letter concluded, “Senator Gaetz, Floridians should have an opportunity to observe the staff and senators as they redraw and to assess for themselves the intent of the drafters. We urge you to conduct the redrafting process in an open and transparent way that reassures voters about the integrity of our system.”