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Florida Senate Lays Out Map-Drawing Rules Aiming To Prevent Partisan Gerrymandering

The Florida Senate Reapportionment Committee meets for the first time ahead of the 2022 legislative session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.
The Florida Senate Reapportionment Committee meets for the first time ahead of the 2022 legislative session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

Florida lawmakers will follow a new set of rules when drawing the state’s legislative and congressional district maps.

The changes are meant to prevent intentional partisan gerrymandering from happening this time around.

In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court found the state’s Senate and Congressional district maps were intentionally drawn to favor Republicans.

This happened after political operatives had secretly submitted maps under an alias.

This time anyone submitting comments, suggestions and maps must sign a form that discloses gifts or compensation they received from any group seeking to influence the redistricting process.

“Clearly records were not retained last time. As I read through the litigation, I remember seeing there were records that were requested that were not produced," said Sen. Ray Rodrigues, chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee. "The expectation is we will retain any communication or record as it pertains to redistricting or reapportionment."

This year’s redistricting rules also prevent any maps from getting considered without a written request from a Senator.

Florida League of Women Voters’ President Cecile Scoon says though she’s not convinced the new rules will actually prevent secretive efforts to draw the maps in a way that favors the ruling party or incumbents, she found it encouraging that lawmakers openly acknowledged the wrongdoing that took place about a decade ago.

“That’s heartening, honestly, because when you just shove things under and you don’t want to talk about the real history — even though it’s a little painful, it may not make you or people you love look good — it’s hard to change, it’s hard to grow past those problems.”

All publicly submitted maps will become available on a joint House-Senate website.

The House Redistricting Committee will meet for the first time on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m.

Copyright 2021 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.