Like the state legislature, which is responsible for redistricting state and federal districts after each federal census, Florida’s counties and cities must do the same if they use districts to elect local officials. Often, county and city commissions will discuss and determine redistricting criteria without special notice, avoiding public input and more objective proposals. Only after they have passed the criteria do commissioners then hold advertised public meetings wherein they can educate the public on the redistricting process and only hear feedback within the bounds of the already agreed upon criteria. This is what is presently happening in Palm Beach County, for example, where criteria includes such ambiguous phrases as “Preserve the core of the existing voter’s districts”. The intention seems similar to Sarasota County’s recent use of gerrymandering to insure that incumbents would not be forced to run against one another at the expense of objective redistricting and fair representation.
The Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform (FLIER) believes that this undercover approach to redistricting by counties and cities is reflective of the undemocratic nature of Florida’s political culture, making the Legislature’
However, local incumbents across the state are keen to draw attention to local redistricting only after they have agreed to the criteria amongst themselves, avoiding the potential of confronting more objective, democratic alternatives or being held accountable. While voters' attention is on the Legislature, local officials are busy gerrymandering. FLIER urges Florida's counties and cities, that wish to use districts for local elections, to adopt a transparent and objective redistricting process that starts with criteria development and follows through to the drawing of maps.
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The Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform is a non-partisan coalition of groups and individuals recognizing the need for electoral reforms to enrich and expand democracy in our state and its localities. In addition to advocacy, we seek to provide education on electoral reform and the policy solutions necessary to realize it. We are working towards a vibrant democracy with accessibility for the average person, a competitive political environment, and pluralism in policy and decision making. For more information please visit http://www.floridaelectoralreform.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.