The readers’ forum

Coalition made redistricting map more fair

 

In his May 2 story, Group sought to protect Wasserman Schultz’s congressional seat, emails show, Marc Caputo suggests that the FairDistricts Coalition engaged in partisanship when suggesting an alternative to the Legislature’s 2012 Congressional map. But the Legislature itself engaged in intentional partisanship, thus making its map unconstitutional.

The article parrots spurious allegations by attorneys trying to defend the Legislature’s unconstitutional map. Those allegations are based solely on statements from emails that were taken out of context and, in some cases, actually altered by the attorneys retained by the state.

In 2010, voters adopted new standards for redistricting in which legislators cannot draw districts to favor themselves or a political party.

In 2012, feigning compliance, legislators largely ignored the new redistricting standards. Even though Florida is an equally divided state, legislators designed districts to favor incumbents and guarantee the continued dominance of their political party.

The FairDistricts Coalition sued to force compliance with the Constitution. To prove the Legislature purposely drew an imbalanced map, the Coalition presented an alternative map that adhered to the FairDistricts guidelines and better reflected the state’s true partisan breakdown.

While the Legislature’s maps gave Republicans a 2-1 advantage, the Coalition maps gave Republicans a slender majority — closer to how Floridians actually vote. The Legislature claims that this somehow proves the Coalition is guilty of “partisanship.”

This claim is just absurd. The fact that the Coalition drew a map that reflects the state’s partisan breakdown in order to fix the Legislature’s distorted and illegal map is not being “partisan,” it’s following the law. You can’t fix something that’s out of balance without balancing it.

Although the Legislature refuses to produce a single document relating to its backroom map drawing, the Coalition has provided the Legislature with over 59,000 pages showing how its map was drawn. But the article follows the lead of the Legislature’s lawyers and is built on parts of two emails taken out of context.

Both emails were from lawyers simply advising map drawers how to draw districts — in one case, to keep condominium developments from being divided into multiple districts and in another, to admonish a map drawer to draw districts that were compliant with the new constitutional standards. The full emails, and full context, were left out of Caputo’s article.

Ultimately, the Coalition simply tried to repair the Legislature’s improper map. That’s not being “partisan,” that’s being fair.

Dan Gelber, attorney representing the plaintiffs in the legislative redistricting lawsuits, Miami

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