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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 19:57

Fair, Fair, Foul - 2010 Redistricting Amendments

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The 2010 ballot has two redistricting amendments, perhaps soon to be three. If passed by the voters in November, these amendments will guide the redrawing of Florida's new Congressional and Legislative districts in 2012 and for decades to come. Amendment 5 is a Fair Districts amendment providing legal guidelines for creating Florida State Legislative districts. Amendment 6 is a Fair Districts amendment for Congressional districts. The third is a Foul Districts amendment coming out of the Florida legislature.

The goal of Fair Districts amendments 5 and 6 is to ensure that future redistricting efforts will not continue to be rigged - as they now are - to protect incumbents and maintain political party power. The Foul Districts amendment, which will be assigned a number higher than 10 if passed by the legislature, intends exactly the opposite - to continue in force the time honored practice of rigging electoral districts to protect incumbent politicians and the party du jour; in short, to rob your vote of its power.

The Fair Districts amendments have been approved by the Florida Supreme Court and placed on the 2010 ballot with more than 1.7 million signatures of registered voters. They provide guidelines for designing districts which will treat politicians, political parties and minorities justly, and return some power to Florida voters by making elections more competitive. Rules are given to prohibit the most prevalent techniques for rigging districts. The Fair Districts wording is clear, and the intent is clear: to ensure that the voters are given honestly drawn electoral districts. The Foul Districts amendment is purposely worded to sound plausible and be false. It's intent is also clear: to make the Fair Districts amendments moot, so that even if 60% of Florida's voters pass amendments 5 and 6, the political leaders in Tallahassee can ignore them and once again draw the districts to protect their own power.

Floridians do not vote in large numbers, but not because they are stupid: they turn out in such small numbers because they know that voting in this state matters very little. Election after election, most incumbents run without competition and incumbents lose very rarely. This is in large part due to Florida's rigged - gerrymandered - electoral districts. The 2010 ballot gives voters a chance to take back some power by passing the Fair Districts amendments, 5 and 6. If a third redistricting amendment gets on the ballot, voters need only remember "FAIR, FAIR, FOUL" to know how to vote. YES, on Fair Districts amendments 5 and 6. NO, on the Foul Districts amendment, which will have a higher number.

Fred Markham
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