Marcos Vilar: DeSantis uses minority voters as a pawn in plan to gain more power in Congress

Actions taken by the Governor show a direct and deliberate intention to minimize minority voices,

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed new congressional maps drawn up by the Florida Legislature. These maps, crafted by a Republican-led Legislature, prior to the denial had already granted an advantage of 18 districts won by Donald Trump and only 10 districts won by Joe Biden in the 2020 election. In a state that is pretty equally divided in regard to the number of Republicans versus Democrats, the maps that were presented were already heavily swayed right.

As some would have expected, the Governor vetoed the maps. However, as DeSantis is the Governor in question, the objections to the map were not vetoed because of the clear unfair advantage given to the Republican Party. Instead, DeSantis cites his main objection to the proposal being that the current proposal allows for a Democratic lead in a predominantly Black district in North Florida, covering Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

If the maps were to have been approved under the current lines, it would already be questionable under the Fair Districting amendments outlined in the Florida constitution. If DeSantis is successful in his attempt to split up a predominantly Black and Democratic district, it would account for an overwhelming majority of Republican districts, outnumbering Democratic districts 20 to eight.

DeSantis’ argument against the current maps is that race should not be used as a factor while drawing district lines, however, he is using that argument not to enhance the voice of minorities in Florida, but to stifle the voice of minority communities across the state.

Florida has seen overwhelming growth in population over the past few years, accounting for an increase of one seat to the number of Florida congressional representatives after the 2020 Census. Much of that growth has come from minority communities, noting that minorities in Florida now make up almost half of the states’ total population. The largest growth has come from Orange and Osceola counties, where most of the growth has come from Hispanics and Latinos moving into the state.

While witnessing the growth of the Latino population, we have yet to see an increase in Latino representation in the Florida legislature or its Congressional delegation. The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 points out the inappropriateness of diluting minority constituencies, including Black and Latino communities. While DeSantis uses the concentration of Black voters to his advantage in his argument, he fails to protect their voices and instead is trying to diminish the rights of minorities given in the constitution. This also presents a great risk for the Latino community, both in Central Florida and across the state in total. These actions taken by the Governor show a direct and deliberate intention to minimize minority voices, Black and Latino alike.

As we have seen him do before, DeSantis is using typical Trumpian doublespeak to deem the proposed lines as illegal, while arguing that Republicans should have even more of an advantage than already given by the Florida Legislature.

While the lines were already drawn with an unconstitutional advantage, DeSantis is trying to gerrymander districts in a way that will give even more Republican representatives in Congress and help to unconstitutionally further the Republican agenda on a national scale.

The intentions and actions of the governor take us back to times of segregation and Jim Crow laws by aggressively limiting the voice of Black Americans as second class. With this thinly veiled attempt at diluting the Black and Latino vote, DeSantis shows us a commitment and continuation of his attempts to stifle the voices of those he fears are a challenge to his Trumpian and autocratic ambitions not only on a state level, nationally as well.


Marcos Vilar is the executive director and founder of Alianza for Progress, a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting underserved, underrepresented communities of Florida and advocating for fair representation.

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