Floridians vs. Gerrymandering
Below, check out The Palm Beach Herald’s editorial about putting an end to gerrymandering in the Sunshine State:
Monday, April 27, 2009
Time to end gerrymandering
Last November in Florida, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 650,000, Barack Obama got a record number of votes, but Republicans easily held their ironclad majority in the Legislature. In fact, only one incumbent state lawmaker lost in 2008.
How, you ask? The answer is gerrymandering.
Every 10 years, following the Census, state legislators must adjust the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts. The party in power invariably does so with an eye toward immunizing itself against competitive reelections for the next decade. The next round of redistricting is slated for 2011-12, but voters can reclaim their voice by placing the FairDistrictsFlorida.org constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot and then passing it.
The amendment would prohibit districts from being “drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party.” It would ensure that districts are not drawn to disenfranchise racial or language minorities. Districts would have to follow existing political and geographical boundaries when possible.
Not surprisingly, the only organized opposition to this proposal has come from members of the Legislature. Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, suggested that redistricting reform would give judges too much power over legislators, and that “elected officials are more responsive” to voters. But redistricting rules only have made legislators less beholden to the public. Sen. Haridopolos is in line to lead the next redistricting effort.
The FairDistrictsFlorida.org amendment needs approximately 676,000 signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot. Ask yourself: should voters pick their elected officials, or should elected officials pick their voters?