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DeSantis rejects GOP-drawn Florida redistricting map

The Republican Florida governor’s decision comes as no surprise after he publicly announced his plans to reject the Republicans’ map on Twitter earlier this month.

(CN) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis formally announced Tuesday he had vetoed the congressional redistricting map sent to him by his Republican colleagues in the GOP-dominated Legislature.

DeSantis foreshadowed his veto in a March 4 tweet in which he said the district map was “DOA.”

In February, the Florida Supreme Court, whose seven justices were each appointed by a Republican governor, unanimously rejected DeSantis’ own map proposal.

DeSantis’ proposed map would have eliminated the current 5th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Al Lawson, a Black Democrat. Lawson’s district connects counties home to a large number of Black communities from Tallahassee to Jacksonville.

Opponents of DeSantis’ preferred map say it would unconstitutionally weaken the impact of minority’s votes in the state and put more congressional districts in control of white Republican representatives.

“At the heart of the map that the governor is pushing, is to dismantle a district that has given Black communities in northern Florida the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. The governor’s actions are an effort to bully the Legislature or the courts into adopting a map that takes away people’s voting rights and is unconstitutional,” said Kathay Feng, the national redistricting director for Common Cause, a nonpartisan pro-democracy watchdog group.

The Fair Districts Amendments, passed in 2010, created standards for the Florida legislature to follow when redrawing district lines in order to establish constitutional limits on political gerrymandering.

According to these standards, districts must not be drawn with intent to favor incumbents or political parties, must not be drawn to diminish voting rights of racial minorities or language minority citizens, must follow local boundaries and be as equal in population as feasible.

“Florida voters overwhelmingly adopted some of the strongest anti-gerrymandering protections in the nation — both against racial and partisan gerrymandering. The governor is ready to shred the Florida Constitution and the will of the people to advance his hyper-partisan, anti-Black ideology,” said Feng.

According to the Washington Post, DeSantis’ effort to eliminate the district off the map came after Trump’s former senior adviser Stephen Bannon asked his radio show’s listeners to demand DeSantis to reject any redistricting proposal that does not favor Republicans’ chance at seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Florida Legislature will need to return to Tallahassee for a special session to redraw the map in time for this year’s midterm elections.

According to a news conference with DeSantis, the session is expected sometime in mid-April.

Also during the special session, lawmakers are expected to discuss passing a new law that would allow Florida residents to carry firearms without a permit. Currently, gun owners in the state must first obtain a concealed weapons permit before legally carrying a firearm in public.

Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana and New Hampshire have yet to agree on a finalized map, which states are required to do every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

Follow @Megwiththenews
Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Politics, Regional

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