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I am not exaggerating when I say that these two amendments, which prevent gerrymandering for Legislative and Congressional districts respectively, are the most important amendments that Florida has faced in decades.  But moreover, these two amendments have vast national implications as well, which is why I hope a front-pager is reading.  

Nowhere else in this election can a vote be such a game changer.  Florida is the fourth largest state in the union, we are a deep purple, but we are OVERWHELMINGLY represented by republicans in the state legislature.  Not just GOP, mind you...but right-wing teabagging extremists who can't lose elections.  In more than 400 legislative races over the past six years, only three incumbents lost their seats.

And since they get to draw the Congressional districts, which unlike  every other state has at least some guidelines, we are well overrepresented by republicans in Congress as well.  But we can change this.  More shocking info below the fold...

You see, unlike Florida, forty-four states already require that redistricting adhere to local boundaries. Thirty-six states require compactness, and twelve prohibit protecting incumbents.  In a major state like Florida?  NOTHING.   Our constitution only requires redistricting every 10 years, but there are no rules whatsoever in drawing the boundaries.  That means no matter what party is in power, the incumbents make backroom deals and rig districts to secure their own re-election.

Republicans are against this right now because they are enjoying the benefits in stacking the deck. (NOT ONE GOP state legislator lost in 2008 during the blue wave.  Oh, and my own Congressman, GOPer John Mica?  He didn't even bother campaigning in 2008, or this year for that matter, because his district snakes through several cities picking up red houses.  Challenger Heather Beaven is amazing, but she isn't even given a fair chance.)  

Democrats were guilty of this 20 years ago, but now there are sophisticated computer modeling programs that can allow the incumbents to draw maps around individual houses. Your only real hope in challenging an incumbent is two ways:

  1.  Defeat the guy in a primary
  1.  Hope for an in-state migration to dilute the redness of the district

Our state legislators can’t even be bothered to disguise what they are doing. These are the actual records used by former speaker Jack Merckl during the preredistricting debate that lead to this monstrosity.

As you can see, the incumbents are picking the voters... where it should be the other way around.  

Incumbent Democrats, by the way, are just as culpable.  You see, when they draw these districts to benefit the incumbent, they must also cram  all of the "undesirable" voters in just one district so they can "bleach" the surrounding districts with their people.  Of course, the incumbents in these sacrificial districts have no trouble agreeing to this scam.  That is why asshats like Corrine Brown and Gary Siplin are trotted out by the GOP to make the bogus argument that somehow the current system protects minorities.  Absolute garbage.

If that was really the case, the Florida NAACP, the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, and the Florida Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials wouldn’t be supporting Amendments 5 and 6 so strongly.  If anything, the current system is preventing diversity.

Measures 5 and 6 protect lines from being drawn for racial or language reasons, and forces the districts to be contiguous, compact and as equal in population as possible.

This is a no-brainer and any politician advocating against these measures, Republican OR Democrat, should be voted out of office.

Incumbents have done everything they could to keep these amendments off the ballot. They tried bullying the movement's leader.   Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos yelled "Look at me!" to Ellen Freidin, who was made to stand during two hours of testimony before the Legislature in February.

They tried killing the amendments in court. And they tried sabotaging 5 and 6 by proposing a COMPLETELY BOGUS and confusing amendment (Amendment 7) of their own to "clarify" amendments 5 & 6, which would have in effect killed them. Thankfully, the judge threw that amendment out when challenged in court.

If the legislators worked as hard on creating jobs as saving their own, they could probably win the elections on their own merits and not need to cheat.

If you vote for any amendments, vote YES on Amendments 5 and 6!  Tell your friends to do the same!


PS:  While you are in the voting booth, vote YES on Amendment 4, Hometown Democracy

PSS:  Here is a non-partisan guide to all of Florida's amendments:  Thanks for reading.

Originally posted to SemDem on Tue Oct 19, 2010 at 06:00 PM PDT.


Fair Districts NOW!

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