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Special Session to Reset Florida's Congressional Boundaries Now Underway

Leg map - Gov map.jpg
Images courtesy projects.fivethirtyeight.com and redistricting.maps.arcgis.com
On the left is the Legislature's redistricting map vetoed by the Governor. On the right is the Governor's proposal.

Tallahassee - April 19, 2022: The Special Session on redistricting is now underway in Tallahassee. During Tuesday session the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Kelly was challenged by various senators who said the new district boundary map favors republicans and violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

Kelly led the team that re-drew the district boundaries after Governor DeSantis vetoed the Legislature's version. Kelly said he acted in a race-neutral manner. However that was questioned by a number of state Senators.

Senator Randolph Bracy: “Mr. Kelly how do you justify splitting the minority population in Orlando into 2 separate districts?"
Kelly: “I followed the outline of Florida law to draw those seats compactly, utilize political and geographical boundary lines. And I didn’t consider race in any way in the drawing of the seats.”

The re-configuration of District 5 which all but eliminated another minority held congressional seat was also called into question by Sen Rosalind Osgood.

Sen Osgood: “It does appear to be politically motivated and it also appears to not take the hard working black citizens of this state seriously.”
Kelly: “The District as drawn in the different configurations by the legislature violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

The outcome of the revised district boundaries creates districts that would favor 4 additional republicans. Kelly said he followed the tier guidance instructions to avoid political favoritism.

Kelly: “Part of Tier 1 is not intentionally favoring or disfavoring an incumbent or political party. I did not do that and I did not intent to do that.”

Sen. Darryl Rouson introduced an amendment to restore the district boundaries to where they were.

Sen. Darryl Rouson: “The intent of this amendment is to protect minority access districts from retrogression as the black communities in those areas have had access for decades and it continues the legacy of minority representation.”

The amendment failed on a voice vote.