House Democratic Co-Leader fears limited public input on redistricting
Evan Jenne. Image via Florida House.

jenne
The map-drawing process for the next 10 years is in the hands of the Republican-led Legislature.

House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne is concerned there will be limited opportunities for the public to review the district maps that will define Florida’s political landscape for the next decade.

Lawmakers are meeting for the second week ahead of the 2022 Session, when the Legislature will approve maps for 28 U.S. House districts, 40 State Senate districts and 120 State House districts. However, lawmakers are receiving a second round of overviews, with this week’s information focused on the Florida Redistricting website that went live last month.

Faced with the possibility that the redistricting process will be slow and drawn out, Jenne conceded the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the federal census process, reducing the amount of time lawmakers and the public have to mull over the decennial data. The Dania Beach Democrat called this year’s mapmaking process dangerous because of a lack of communication with the public.

The deadline for lawmakers to approve maps is March 11, the final day of the 60-day Legislative Session.

“We are going to have probably the most limited amount of community input that we’ve ever seen on these maps. To me that is wild,” Jenne said.

Public groups, like Florida Conservation Voters, have also asked lawmakers to seek public input and make the process accessible. In a letter sent to lawmakers Monday, the Fair Districts Coalition thanked legislative leaders for committing to a fair process and urged transparency.

“However, we cannot forget that the last redistricting process was touted as being ‘the most transparent’ redistricting process in Florida history, while elected officials knowingly created a shadow process,” they wrote.

This week, the Senate Reapportionment Committee meets Monday afternoon. The House Redistricting Committee meets Tuesday while the two House subcommittees meet Wednesday.

Republicans leading the redistricting committees have promised a fair process, but Democrats have not turned down opportunities to caution the majority party against impropriety, including gerrymandering.

Pointing to last decade’s redistricting process, which wasn’t completely finished until 2016 following court challenges, he was confident there would be lawsuits to the maps drawn next year.

“The Legislature has proved it knows how to muck things up enough that it can drag on in a court case for years and years and years, and redistricting is no different,” Jenne said.

However, he said he doesn’t know of “nefarious” plans to intentionally drag out the mapmaking process to limit opportunities for court challenges.

Jenne’s other concerns include ensuring there is appropriate minority access seating and that the Legislature follows the “Fair Districts” anti-gerrymandering amendment voters added to the state constitution in 2010.

“The ball is clearly in the hands of my friends on the other side of the aisle, and it’s going to be up to them to decide if they want to play this thing straight or if they want to get a little wonky with how those lines run throughout the state,” he said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


6 comments

  • Alex

    October 11, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Republicans will cheat at every opportunity they can get away with.

    The District maps will end up rigged to favor the GQP – looking like swiss cheese – and they’ll smile their empty eyed smiles and tell us it’s somehow actually the Dems who stole the election.

    Their circular reasoning and lack of a shred of proof tells us everything we need to know.

    Reply

  • Ron Ogden

    October 11, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Balderdash! All you have to do is check out the on-line resources, found here at https://www.floridaredistricting.gov/ and you will see open, transparent, easy-to access and use, and comprehensive offering of information and an invitation to public participation. Everyone who wants to take part can do so. Everyone who wants to sit on the sidelines and complain–for the purpose of slowing the process and laying the groundwork for years of lawsuits like they did last time–will just have to sit on the sidelines and complain. Alex, name one SPECIFIC thing about the resources that are available to all Floridians that you don’t like, other than the fact that you and your ill-minded cohort are in the minority and can’t have things your way. You and the rest of the parlor pinks cowering in the dark allies of Florida politics got there of your own free will by being acid, boring, contemptuous of your fellow citizens, deplorably partisan, and effete. If, you’d like, I can name another 21 characteristics of yours that disqualify you and your friends of significant participation in public business–one for each remaining letter of the alphabet.

    Reply

    • Alex

      October 11, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      Simple.

      Because Republicans will still cheat no matter what happens.

      Oh, and you can’t insult me, because I don’t give a shit what far right freaks like you think.

      Lol

      Reply

      • Ron Ogden

        October 11, 2021 at 7:48 pm

        Not going to listen to anybody, eh, because you are smarter than they are. Typical proggie: you’ve given away your morals and don’t miss them.

        Reply

        • Alex

          October 11, 2021 at 10:10 pm

          I am smarter, better read, more aware of current events, and more moral than you.

          Remember I was there during your ignorant rants about public education, black schools, and your attempt at gaslighting somebody.

          What else you have?

          Reply

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