Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee for a special session this week after a judge in Leon County declared the boundaries for two Congressional districts were unconstitutional.
The districts, located in the Jacksonville and Orlando areas, were deemed by Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to be illegal, and ordered those districts to be redrawn immediately. A proposed map from a select House committee, however, does not appear to significantly change any of the Congressional districts in Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
The fifth district is represented by Democrat Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, while the 10th district is represented by Republican Daniel Webster of Winter Garden.
The 10th district borders District 15, currently represented by Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, which dips into the northern parts of Hillsborough, including the Lutz area. The proposed revision does not appear to make any changes to the shared border between the two districts.
The House committee is led by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, and met Thursday afternoon to draft a new map. Lawmakers are expected to meet again Friday, and possibly into next week, to finish redrawing the lines.
In a joint statement from Senate president Don Gaetz and House speaker Will Weatherford on Monday, lawmakers accused the court of trying to disrupt the current election process.
“Florida’s supervisors of elections have raised serious concerns over changing the elections process at this late date,” the two said in a statement.
The NAACP, they said, also expressed concerned, saying that the get-out-the-vote infrastructure would not be in place for the new districts once those lines are drawn. “Voters who face challenges to political participation — be it financial, job scheduling, transportation or other impediments — will be irreparably harmed by conducting the election at a time where that infrastructure does not exist,” the organization said, according to lawmakers.
Also more than 1 million absentee ballots already have been mailed both to Floridians and military service members overseas, Gaetz and Weatherford said. Those ballots were based on the district boundaries before the court’s ruling that they had to change.
“We intend to vigorously defend the integrity and validity of Floridians’ votes that have already been cast, and that will be cast in the upcoming election,” the two Tallahassee leaders said.