Fair Districts Got It Right

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Posted on June 25, 2010 - 10:15am by Anonymous.


Incumbents hard to beat

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From PolitiFact Florida:

Underneath the loud tussling over who Florida's next governor and U.S. Senator will be runs a quiet political battle that could have far more lasting ramifications.

Two warring efforts to reshape how Florida's voter districts are drawn are gearing up across the state. On one side stands Fair Districts Florida, a citizens group that claims political leaders manipulate the redistricting process to benefit incumbents. They put two constitutional changes, Amendments 5 and 6, on the November ballot. The measures would require lawmakers to adhere to redistricting standards that don't favor incumbents when they redraw legislative and congressional lines starting next year.

On the other side are Republican lawmakers and a handful of minority leaders who argue the requirements set out in the amendments are both vague and impossible. They placed their own constitutional amendment on the ballot, Amendment 7, that would allow legislators to craft districts using “communities of interest,” such as race or coastal communities.

"We asked them a very simple question, 'How does your plan to draw the districts work?' And they said, 'I don't know,'" said incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, a critic of the Fair Districts campaign who pushed Amendment 7 through the 2010 legislative session. "I am not going to play politics with something as important as someone's voting rights."

But critics of the legislative amendment paint it as a ploy to confuse voters and gut the Fair Districts amendments. 

Ellen Freidin, campaign chair of Fair Districts Florida, said Florida's redistricting process deters new candidates.

"They actually designed their districts specifically for themselves," she said. "They know how many registered voters in the district are Republican or Democratic so someone from the other side can't win because they stack it that way."

The Fair Districts Florida website explains the stakes this way: "In the last 6 years, there have been 420 elections for State Senator and State Representative. Only three incumbents have been defeated! After all, their districts are specially designed for them! With virtually certain seats, legislators have no incentive to be responsive to their constituents and they see no reason to compromise for the public good."

We aren't going to address the finger-wagging over which side is in the wrong. But Fair Districts' election statistics are ripe for a Truth-O-Meter item. We wondered, are Florida elections really that predictable?

The short answer is yes.

Read the rest here


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