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Politics & Government

Florida Court Rules Eight Congressional Districts Must Be Redrawn

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The political landscape in Florida could be changing. Right now there's some 400,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state. But Republicans hold a majority of Florida's 27 congressional seats. It might not stay this way after a major ruling from Florida's Supreme Court. NPR's Greg Allen reports.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Five years ago, Florida voters amended the state constitution to try to take politics out of redistricting. Under the law, the state legislature must draw congressional maps without regard to political parties or incumbents. Last year, a state judge found that the Republican-controlled legislature violated that law, and he ordered two districts redrawn. Now Florida's Supreme Court says that ruling didn't go far enough. The Supreme Court is ordering Florida's legislature to redraw the maps for eight congressional districts. Michael McDonald teaches political science at the University of Florida. He says suddenly, uncertainty surrounds next year's elections.

MICHAEL MCDONALD: There are incumbents. There are potential challengers to those incumbents. All of those folks are now on hold until the state legislature can draw a new map.

ALLEN: And they don't have much time. The justices gave Florida legislators 100 days to produce new maps. Although the court says maps have to be redrawn for just eight congressional districts, many more will be affected. Take, for example, the 5th Congressional District, one that meanders from Jacksonville to Orlando. To meet requirements that maps be compact, the court said it would have to be radically redrawn, a change McDonald said will affect several other districts.

MCDONALD: There's suddenly going to be this big sucking sound in the middle of Florida as all of the districts have to move towards the center in order to take up that population which is no longer within the 5th Congressional District.

ALLEN: The member of Congress who represents that district is Corinne Brown, a Democrat and an African-American. Yesterday, she called the decision flawed and one that fails to take into consideration the rights of minority voters. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.