“We can take action by making phone calls, sending emails, tweeting, or writing letters to our state legislators. Demand transparency. Send letters to the editor of your local media outlets. Attend public hearings and speak out. Support those in your community who are holding our legislators accountable,” said Moné Holder.
BY MONÉ HOLDER, Florida Rising
ST. PETERSBURG — Florida citizens will soon be at the mercy of state legislators who will redraw congressional districts based on the 2020 U.S. Census report. These elected officials will wield enormous power to either protect voters’ rights or serve their own political interests.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution mandates a headcount of every individual living in the United States. The census is the basis for drawing congressional district maps that determine whether voters can choose their federal and state leaders for the next decade. Or if legislators rig the system so they can stay in power.
The Florida legislature has kicked off its redistricting committee meetings in Tallahassee. The maps they ultimately come up with will determine who has power in the state – politicians or the voters, yet it is unclear how much public input the GOP-controlled will allow.
Florida Rising and a coalition of other like-minded organizations are determined to stop any efforts by the Florida legislature to subvert and manipulate this process. We will be watching closely in the following weeks and months as maps are drawn.
Florida is one of several states – mainly in the South – that are targets for Republican assaults on voting rights. Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina are also in the crosshairs for mischief.
Redistricting is the key to the GOP’s grip on state Houses and their unconstitutional laws to suppress the vote. They must not be allowed to subvert and disenfranchise the constitutional right to freely and fairly elect representatives chosen by the people.
If they succeed, the people lose, especially those in Black, Brown, and marginalized communities.
We demand transparency and public input. We ask all Florida citizens to join us in this effort to bring a halt to the recurring and despicable shenanigans of the politically powerful. We must all raise our voices in favor of fair and equal congressional districts.
This is a once-in-a-decade accounting of state population changes that will impact who our elected leaders are. We, the voters, deserve to choose our leaders, not the other way around.
The new maps and districts will impact not merely who our elected officials are but how federal dollars are handed out for basic services such as schools, roads, hospitals, and more.
In 2010 voters overwhelmingly approved the Fair Districts amendment to the state constitution mandating that district maps do not favor one political party over another.
This was due to legislators trying their best to violate the state constitution when drawing congressional and state Senate maps.
The intent was to stop gerrymandering, a practice where legislators protect their power bases. They carve up some districts and pack other districts with voting blocs of their choosing. Their purpose is to dilute the voting power of Black, Brown, and indigenous communities and deny citizens’ right to fair representation.
A Republican-dominated legislature is responsible for more than two decades of gerrymandering districts to favor their incumbents and candidates in Florida.
This must stop.
Everything is on the line. Gerrymandering is directly linked with the current efforts to suppress voting rights. We are in grave danger if we don’t stop these power grabs and save our democracy.
We can take action by making phone calls, sending emails, tweeting or writing letters to our state legislators. Demand transparency. Send letters to the editor of your local media outlets. Attend public hearings and speak out. Support those in your community who are holding our legislators accountable.
Florida Rising stands with you in this fight.
Moné Holder is the senior director of advocacy and programs for Florida Rising