Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Fight for Fair Districts in Florida

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Fair Districts Florida is a nonpartisan and independent organization devoted to ending partisan gerrymandering in Florida. A similar measure was tried before in 2006, but was thrown out by the courts due to a legal challenge. The GOP legislature knew it would come up again and wouln't be able to count on another legal challenge, so in 2006 they threw all their weight behind the 60% amendment. Even with all their money and support, it was the only amendment that, ironically, didn't get 60% of the vote.

But it passed.

We need 60% of the voting public to vote for fair, independent districts. There is no state as bad as gerrymandering than Florida. Even though the majority of Floridians are Democrats, there are pratically no Democrats in the state legislature. The districts are drawn so poorly, that incumbents are re-elected no matter how bad they are.

Newspapers like the Tallahassee Democrat and the St. Pete Times are in favor:

The Florida Supreme Court opened the door last week to greater accountability of elected officials when it approved for the ballot a citizens' initiative to change how political districts are drawn. Now supporters and Florida voters need to make sure this important reform comes to pass.

The current system for drawing legislative and congressional districts is broken. State lawmakers have used the once-a-decade process to draw safe seats for themselves and members of Congress. The result is incumbents are rarely threatened, as evidenced in November when a big shift in voter sentiment translated to little change in the partisan makeup of the Florida Legislature and the state's congressional delegation...

The hope of the amendments' sponsors is if the voters pass the constitutional amendments in November 2010, the changes will be in place for the next redistricting in 2012. Bringing fairness to political districts will make elected officials more accountable and give voters substantially more power over the direction of the state. It can't happen soon enough.

Amen. We deserve better. We deserve fair districts.

This is more important than any other issue or candidate that will be put before voters in 2010. Better legislators translates to better laws and more representative government.

And it starts with fairly drawn districts.