Census Changes; What They Mean For Florida

Redistricting is coming to Florida. Getting ready for the wrangling over newly drawn maps. When it comes to Census changes over the past 100 or so years there have been two givens. Florida would gain representation due to our ever-growing population and legal battles over how new districts would be drawn.

A hundred years ago, Florida only had 6 Electoral College votes. After the 2020 Census, we’ve grown to 30 after adding another vote and gaining another Congressional seat. In fact, Florida’s gained representation in every Census since 1930 in becoming the third largest state in the union. Only California, which lost representation this cycle for the first time in its state history, has grown faster than Florida over that time. 

With Republicans in control of the state legislature, they’ll have the opportunity to draw new Congressional maps, which must be approved through a joint resolution. Once approved in the legislature, the new map is then sent to the Florida Supreme Court for legal review. If approved by Florida’s high court, it becomes law. If not it’s kicked back to the legislature to be redrawn with consideration to the court’s findings.

There is one other dynamic that can enter the equation. The Justice Department. Since November of 1972, redistricting impacting five Florida counties, Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe have been subject to Justice Department review under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Under a 2013 Supreme Court ruling the state of Florida won’t have to seek preclearance for new maps impacting those counties, however, legal challenges are likely to be brought by Democrats against the maps no matter how they are drawn. Those challenges will likely invoke the Voting Rights Act as grounds for federal intervention.  

That’s what lies ahead for Florida as we’re gaining representation. The new maps, whatever they will be, will be in place for the 2022 mid-term elections. Despite a four-month delay due to the pandemic in these initial results, with next year’s state session starting in January something similar is likely to occur this cycle too. 

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