Florida
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by legislature
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Low

State Legislative

Alert:
Low

Process

State Legislative Districts

Florida's state legislative districts are drawn by the Legislature by joint resolution, which are not subject to the Governor's veto. Within 15 days, these plans are sent to the state Supreme Court to ensure that they meet the state's redistricting standards. If they do not, the Legislature gets a second chance to draw plans. If the state Supreme Court again finds that the plans are invalid, the Court will have 60 days to draw its own maps.

Congressional Districts

Florida's congressional districts are drawn by the Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Florida’s state constitution (Art. III §§ 20, 21) requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve political subdivisions. As a result of the Fair Districts Amendments, intentionally favoring or disfavoring an incumbent or political party is also prohibited. The Amendments also codified Voting Rights Act-type language into the Florida Constitution.

Public Input

While Florida law does not require public hearings, the state held such hearings between June 20 and August 31 in 2011. Additionally, the state accepted public map submissions, providing free online redistricting software and data; overall, 153 public maps were submitted. It is plausible that there will be similar opportunities for public input in 2021.

One note of caution is that there was considerable frustration and controversy over the public hearings in 2011, as residents complained that lawmakers were distracted or uninterested in their testimony. There were also concerns that opponents to the redistricting process were driven by partisanship, rather than genuine civic engagement.

2011 Cycle

There was a significant amount of litigation in the 2011 redistricting cycle.

  • In re 2012 Joint Resolution of Apportionment was the first case under the Fair Districts Amendments. The state Supreme Court ordered that eight state Senate districts be redrawn because of inferred partisan intent. A few weeks later, the Legislature adopted a new Senate plan that was upheld by the Court.
  • In League of Women Voters of Florida v. Detzner (2015), plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the state Senate plan, alleging partisan intent, incumbent protection, and minority packing. The state Supreme Court ordered eight districts to be redrawn, finding five showed partisan intent and three were noncompact or failed to follow traditional boundaries. The Legislature failed to enact a remedial plan, so in late 2015, the Court approved a map that had been adopted by the trial court.

Issues

Pitfalls

Despite constitutional prohibitions, unified party control of Florida's government may lead to an increased risk of partisan and racial gerrymandering. In the 2011 redistricting cycle, the principal avenue for fair districts in Florida was the state Supreme Court. In 2021, however, the Court’s composition will be very different. 

Additionally, this will be Florida’s first cycle without the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which was struck down in the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder. In the absence of preclearance requirements for communities of color, and given Florida’s history with gerrymandering, observers should closely monitor every step of the redistricting process to ensure fair treatment for all.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, Florida gained one congressional seat.

Potential Reform

Senate Bill 252 was introduced in 2020 to expand public access to draft plans by revising a section of Florida’s public records law. The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration in March.

Actions

In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.

  • Obtain Florida redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the Legislature starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. While the deadline to change the constitutional process for this redistricting cycle has passed, it is never too early to plan and organize for reforms.

Contacts

League of Women Voters of Florida

Common Cause Florida

Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform

Florida Election Science Team (FEST)

Public Mapping Project

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia