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Chan Lowe: Fair Districts and fact


I’ll bet the words “redistricting” and “reapportionment” make your eyes glaze over. The legislators in Tallahassee are betting on that, too.

Every ten years, each state must redesign its congressional and state legislative district maps to reflect changes in census data. It’s one of the reasons the Founding Fathers required that a census be taken in the U.S. Constitution.

It seems simple, but it isn’t. Recent Supreme Court decisions have found that special exceptions must be made to ensure that certain districts are drawn to guarantee minority representation. Then there’s the fact that the party in power generally controls redistricting, and their top priority is to preserve that power in perpetuity, as well as to protect incumbents.

An added wrinkle, this time around, is that Floridians voted for something called “Fair Districts,” which, while making representation theoretically more even-handed, is diametrically opposed to the countervailing forces described above.

Why should you care? Because right now, we have a legislature wherein the Democratic caucus in both houses is so miniscule, it has been relegated to an ineffectual joke. Republican legislators, along with a GOP governor and Cabinet, can run roughshod over the state, force-feeding it their agenda if they so choose (and they have so chosen). You’d never know from this that Florida is a majority Democratic state, would you?

The legislature is sitting on a multi-million-dollar slush fund to fight legal battles that seek to pick Fair Districts apart in the courts, out of sight, where the average Floridian doesn’t care or have time to involve himself.

So start paying attention, for crying out loud. They’re stealing your state out from under your nose.

Categories: 2012 Campaign (85), Florida Issues (258)
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Elections have consequences. One of those is that the party in power "wins" the right to redistrict.The party out of power always tries to limit their ability to redistrict in any way that diminishes the opponents power base; the Democrats also have a huge fund set aside to sue the state and prevent any shifts.Why do you fail to mention that in your opinion piece? The outcome will be after a well fought political battle, and court decisions-which is the best way to ensure a modicum of fairness.

Unfortunately, the amendments didn't call for an independent commission to design the districts, so we'll no doubt see things like we saw in the class size amendments where the legislature simply defined all classes as not being "core" classes. Probably we'll get things like city and county boundaries being moved so districts can follow the "natural" boundaries :-).

"can run roughshod over the state, force-feeding it their agenda if they so choose (and they have so chosen)"...sounds familiar to me. reminds me of when obama said the republicans could ride in their bus but have to sit in the back. at least this isn't mandatory state health care in a 2,000 plus page bill being force fed to us.

where was the protest cartoon about that?

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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