TALLAHASSEE — Under court-order to redraw a partisan-tainted congressional map, the Florida Senate passed a new plan Monday that tweaks seven seats in the hope of avoiding election chaos later this month.
Lawmakers were forced to re-draw the plan after Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled last month that two Central Florida districts had been drawn to unfairly favor Republicans, in violation of the 2010 anti-gerrymandering reforms. The Senate voted 25-12 for the new plan, with Democrats opposing it. The House is expected to follow suit later today.
After Gov. Rick Scott signs the plan, it will head back to Lewis, who has set an Aug. 20 hearing to decide whether to order new election dates to implement a revised map. Thousands of ballots have already been cast in the Aug. 26, and county election supervisors have said it would cost millions of dollars to re-schedule elections in the 23 impacted counties.
But Democrats hammered the new map for not making major changes to the District 5 seat held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, which would maintain a somewhat “serpentine” shape stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando and keep its overwhelming, black Democratic concentration.
“We still have a one-is-enough mentality,” said Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, referring to Brown’s African-American seat.