Florida Legislature Advances Congressional District Map Proposed by DeSantis
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida House of Representatives on Thursday voted to advance a redistricting plan proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that will likely place the state’s representation on Capitol Hill further into the Republican column while eliminating a district created to ensure minority representation.
Thursday’s vote in the House was 68-38, and it came a day after the Florida Senate approved the measure, 24-15, as both chambers meet in a special session called by the governor.
DeSantis is expected to sign the bill today but legal challenges are expected to continue for weeks if not months.
Immediately after the vote in the state House, Black lawmakers, some of them wearing t-shirts that said, “Stop the Black Attack,” staged an impromptu sit-in in the chamber.
The DeSantis-backed map could help the Republican Party pick up as many as four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives this November. It also eliminates one Black majority-district located in the top tier of the state.
The DeSantis map, which his deputy chief of staff, Alex Kelly, submitted to the Legislature last week, creates 20 seats that favor Republicans and just eight that tilt toward Democrats.
“Today Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will sign into law maps that ‘crack’ apart or ‘pack’ together communities of color to diminish their voice in government,” said Jack Genberg, senior staff attorney for Voting Rights with the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund.
“Throughout the redistricting process, DeSantis has openly criticized majority-minority districts that provide equal representation to Floridians of color, and now he is weaponizing redistricting to replace some of those districts with majority-white districts,” Genberg said.
“Despite the growth of communities of color in Florida, DeSantis is proposing a map that reduces the number of seats containing a majority of voters of color in Congress,” he continued.
“Voters of color are going to be deprived of an equal opportunity when it comes to making their voices heard on issues as local as getting their roads repaired, or as national as health care policy.
“Given the extent to which the new congressional map in Florida is likely to diminish the voices in government of communities of color, and the blatant disregard the governor and state Legislature have shown for creating equal representation for communities of color, it is vital that we hold them accountable and prevent these maps from taking effect.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center supports and stands with Florida communities and grassroots organizations calling out and organizing against these discriminatory maps,” Genberg concluded.
The adoption of the new congressional districts in Florida at least temporarily erases some of the gains Democrats have made in this year’s national redistricting process.
Up to today, the emerging national map for 2022 elections had appeared to be effectively balanced between the two major parties for the first time since the mid-1960s.