By Kyle LoJacono
The Florida Supreme Court approved revamped districts for the state Senate April 27, ending the once-a-decade process that took more than a year to complete.
The Senate originally created lines for its 40 districts in February using U.S. Census data released in 2011, but the lines were challenged by several groups, including the Florida Democratic Party, on the grounds they violated The Fair Districts Amendment. The Court agreed and rejected the plan, forcing the Legislature back to the drawing board.
The Senate’s tweaked districts were unanimously approved by the Court despite many of the same groups challenging the lines.
“In reaching its decision, the Court has carefully considered the submissions of both those supporting and those opposing the plan,” the Court’s opinion reads. “The Court has also considered the alternative plans that both the Florida Democratic Party and the Coalition have submitted in support of their arguments. … We declare the redrawn plan apportioning the districts for the Florida Senate to be constitutionally valid.
Chairman of the Reapportionment Committee Don Gaetz (R-Destin) said he is happy the process is over as it allows elections offices across the state to prepare for when voters cast their ballots later this year.
“Contrary to the fears, or perhaps the hopes of the cynics and the critics, Florida’s citizens will now go forward to choose from among their neighbors who will represent them in the Senate and House of Representatives,” Gaetz said. “Those elections will be held on time. Absentee and overseas ballots will be sent well in advance. Early voting will occur as scheduled.”
All government district lines must be redrawn ever 10 years to reflect changes in population found from the Census. The alignments for the Florida House of Representatives, Congressional seats and the county commissions in Pasco and Hillsborough counties have already been adopted.