So they’re redrawing a map. Why should I care? The breadth of the district map redrawing means that thousands of Floridians could end up in a new districts with new representatives. Your congressmen and state legislators are your closest links to the government. Having a new representative can drastically change how well you are being represented in the government, as well as the quality of constituent services you have access to.
What is redistricting? Redistricting is the process by which states redraw electoral districts to reflect changes in population and demographics. Typically, this process takes place every ten years based on new census data. States have differing processes and requirements as to how this process takes place. Most states give full control of this process to the state legislature, while some, like Arizona and California, put it in the hands of an independent commission.
What is gerrymandering? Gerrymandering is when districts are drawn for the express advantage or disadvantage of a political party, politician, or demographic group. These districts can hinder minority representation and allow extreme politicians on both sides to dominate legislatures. At its worst, gerrymandering creates a massive gulf between communities and the officials that represent them. Although several state have taken measures against this process, gerrymandered districts exist across the United States.
What about Florida? Florida gives full control of the redistricting process to its state legislature, which can create the possibility of gerrymandering. In 2010, 63% of Floridians voted to enact a state constitutional amendment that expressly prohibited the practice.
The next census is in 2020. Why is redistricting in the news now? The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts that were approved in 2012 violate the standards that Floridians voted for in 2010. The state legislature must now reconvene in an August special session to redraw these districts. The Florida State Senate admitted in court that it had gerrymandered its own districts as well. State Senate districts will be redrawn in an October special session.
But why should I care as an American Muslim? There are 184,474 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian voters in the state of Florida. Without legitimately drawn districts, this community cannot achieve the electoral clout it needs. Emerge USA will be partnering with statewide organizations to ensure that all minority populations, including the MASA community, are fairly and adequately represented in this latest round of redistricting.