Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis brazenly trying to cut black political power in his state as he rebuilds his constituencies to bring substantial benefits to Republicans.
The Florida The legislature is meeting this week to consider a DeSantis proposal that would give Florida Republicans a 20-8 advantage over Democrats in the state delegation to Congress. That’s four places more than the Republican advantage of 16-11 now (Florida got an extra seat in Congress because of population growth).
The DeSantis plan seriously undermines the right to vote of black Florida residents. There are currently four constituencies in the state where black voters can choose their candidates. His plan left only two.
The governor spoke openly about his desire to eliminate the fifth county seat in Congress, which stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee in northern Florida. Forty-six percent of the electorate is black, and they are represented by Al Lawson, a black Democrat. DeSantis argues that the area is unconstitutional because its unusually sprawling shape was depicted primarily on the basis of race. “We won’t have a 200-mile herrimander who separates people by the color of their skin. That’s wrong, “he said. He said this month.
The map he proposed divides the fifth district into four new constituencies, where black voters make up a much smaller proportion of the population.
“Sometimes you have to use an Okama razor, and the simplest explanation is correct … It’s a deeply racist move against black political power,” said Michael Lee, an expert on overcrowding at the Brennan Justice Center. “What he’s doing in Fifth Florida seems gratuitous. It seems vile and really designed to give things effect. ”
The county was created in 2015 when a Florida judge approved new congressional counties for the state after the previous ones were declared illegal Gerrymans. The state Supreme Court approved the map, noting the 5th district defended ability black voters to elect a candidate of their choice, giving them a political vote in part of Florida once home on plantations built by slaves.
Getting rid of the fifth constituency will have serious consequences for black voters in the north of the state, said Jasmine Bernie-Clark, founder of Equal Ground, a civic group that plans to lobby lawmakers to reject the governor’s proposal.
“They will lose access to resources and access to someone who could talk to them in this particular fifth district,” she said. “The absence of anyone representing this part of the Jacksonville, Tallahassee individuals, means we are reducing their voting rights, meaning the governor is diluting their voting rights. And the governor is using their opportunity to be heard through the election process. ”
It is unclear whether Republicans in the legislature will approve the DeSantis plan. Earlier this year, they abandoned attempts by the governor to draw their own map of the dismantling of the fifth district. But last week they said the governor would make it an unusual move take the lead about submitting a proposal.
When DeSantis initially expressed skepticism about a broad fifth constituency in Congress, Republicans in the Florida Legislature offered a compromise. They approved a proposal that would create a more compact area around Jacksonville that would keep black voters together.
Although the new constituency would be about 35% black, it would act as a constituency where black voters could choose a candidate of their choice, Lee said. He said black voters would make up the vast majority of the democratic primary electorate, which would allow the election of a Democratic candidate in a constituency that would still favor Democrats in the general election.
But DeSantis rejected the more compact area, offering a confusing rationale. A lawyer from his office said lawmakers took race into account too much when they drew a map in violation of the U.S. Constitution. But he also said the constituency was not black enough, saying a reduction in the share of black voters would make it harder for them to choose the candidate of their choice, violating the anti-Gerimander language in the Florida Constitution. “It’s like, well, what is it? Isn’t the Black District Black? ” Lee said.
DeSantis also rejected a second proposal that would keep the fifth district largely the same. This proposal, he said, considered the race too much.
Instead, DeSantis ’proposal divides Jacksonville into two constituencies, uniting black voters in Jacksonville with white, Republican districts elsewhere.
“If you object to the compact Jacksonville area, your real motives are really clear,” Lee said. “You just have the idea that the real problem is that there is still an area where black people have power. And that’s the problem Governor DeSantis has. “
The DeSantis map provokes two very serious legal battles for redistribution. The governor appears to be seeking the repeal of amendments approved by an overwhelming majority of voters in 2010 aimed at curbing guerrilla manipulation and committing an illegal reduction in the ability of minority voters to choose a candidate of their choice. Republicans have a solid majority in the Florida Supreme Court.
DeSantis also insists on fighting at the federal level. US Supreme Court signaled recently that she is increasingly skeptical of considering race in the drawing of county lines, and a map of Florida could give another chance for them to make it harder to justify its use. If the courts approved the DeSantis card, it would be easier for lawmakers to pursue discriminatory lines in the future.
“The traditional understanding of the Supreme Court is that you can think about race, you just can’t put voters in the constituency just because of race,” Lee said. “Governor DeSantis basically takes the position that if you even think about trying to paint an area that is black or Latin American, a simple thought about race means it’s unconstitutional. It’s really aggressive. ”