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Prof. Justin Levitt's Doug Spencer's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

State Summary

In Florida, congressional lines are drawn by the legislature, as normal legislation.  State legislative lines are drawn by the legislature and passed as a joint resolution, which is not subject to gubernatorial veto.

In the 2010 cycle, Florida’s legislature passed congressional maps (SB 1174) on Feb. 9, 2012, which were struck down on July 10, 2014 (2014 elections were held under the existing 2012 map).  The legislature passed remedial maps (SB 2-A) on Aug. 11, 2014; on July 9, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court held that substantially more portions of the 2012 map were invalid. After the legislature failed to agree on a subsequent remedial plan, the Florida Supreme Court on Dec. 2, 2015 approved a remedial map drawn by the courts.

The legislature also passed state legislative maps (SJR 1176) on Feb. 9, 2012; on initial review, the state Supreme Court approved state House districts but struck down the state Senate plan.  On Mar. 27, 2012, the state legislature passed a revised Senate plan (SJR 2-B).  On July 28, 2015, in the face of a court challenge, the Senate admitted that the new plan was unlawful; when the legislature failed to agree on a remedial plan, the state court on Dec. 30, 2015 drew a new state Senate plan instead.

 

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Seats: (projected)

Institution:

Drawn by:

Plan Status:

Party Control:
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  Governor:

Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Data

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The Latest Updates

Dec 1, 2022
Florida lawmakers appealed a court order that they sit for depositions in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's new congressional districts.
Oct 28, 2022
State court held that key state lawmakers, including Gov. DeSantis's chief of staff, must sit for depositions in lawsuit challenging Florida's new congressional plan.
Sep 8, 2022
PBS: Plaintiffs challenging Florida's congressional districts are traveling the state to educate Black voters about changes to the congressional map.
Jun 17, 2022
A Florida state appeals court rejected a lower court injunction that had blocked the implementation of new congressional districts.
May 13, 2022
Florida's Secretary of State appealed a state court ruling that invalidated several of the state's new congressional districts. The appeal automatically results in a stay of the lower court opinion until the First District Court of Appeals hears the case.
May 11, 2022
A state judge in Florida invalidated part of the state's new congressional map as a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. Judge Smith held that by eliminating a majority-Black district, the new map diminishes Black voting power in Northern Florida.
Apr 25, 2022
Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the state's new congressional map. Plaintiffs argue that the new districts violate the state's constitution—namely the Fair Districts Amendment—because the map favors Republicans by a more than two-to-one margin, and because the map dilutes the power of racial minority voters.
Apr 21, 2022
The Florida state House adopted the Senate-approved congressional map drawn by Gov. DeSantis.
Apr 20, 2022
The Florida state Senate adopted a new congressional map that was drawn by the staff of Gov. DeSantis.
Apr 13, 2022
The Florida Legislature is expected to take up a the Governor Desantis' map proposal during a special session this week. The proposal is expected to eliminate a majority black district.
Mar 29, 2022
Gov. DeSantis vetoed the legislature's two-map package of congressional districts and called the legislature back into a special session, which will meet April 19-22.
Mar 11, 2022
Florida voters have filed a lawsuit. The complaint asks the court to intervene and assume jurisdiction over the congressional redistricting process because of the political impasse between the state legislature and the governor.
Mar 4, 2022
The Florida House and Senate approved a final congressional redistricting plan (SB 102). The Florida Governor has threatened to veto the bill.
Mar 3, 2022
The Florida Supreme Court approved the state legislative redistricting maps for the Florida House and Senate.
Feb 25, 2022
The Florida House Redistricting Committee advanced two congressional maps, the primary one to address complaints of the governor and a secondary map incase the first is rejected by the courts.
Feb 18, 2022
The Florida Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee has advanced PCB CRS 22-01, which would establish a new congressional map for the state, to the full Redistricting Committee.
Feb 10, 2022
The Florida state Supreme Court denied a request from Gov. DeSantis that it issue an advisory opinion about the constitutionality of Florida's fifth congressional district, a minority opportunity district that was drawn in 2015 to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
Feb 9, 2022
The Florida Attorney General has petitioned the Florida Supreme Court seeking a declaratory judgement validating the new state legislative redistricting plans (CS/SJR 100).
Feb 3, 2022
The Florida Senate passed new state legislative redistricting plans (CS/SJR 100). The plans now go to the Florida Supreme Court for review.
Feb 1, 2022
Florida's governor has requested an advisory opinion from the Florida Supreme Court to determine if the Florida Constitution would allow for the division of minority populations currently in congressional district 5.
Jan 20, 2022
The Florida Senate passed a new state senate redistricting plan (SB 100) and a new congressional redistricting plan (SB 102). Both bills will moved the Florida House for consideration.
Jan 18, 2022
Florida's Governor has submitted a redistricting proposal, to establish a new congressional map for the state of Florida.
Jan 13, 2022
Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment approved a new congressional map for the state of Florida. SB 102 will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.
Dec 3, 2021
Leon County's political leaders, including the Mayor of Tallahassee petitioned the Florida House State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee to avoid splitting the city of Tallahassee into three state house districts.
Nov 29, 2021
Florida's House Committee on Reapportionment released draft congressional (C8001 and C8003) and state house (H8005 and H8007) map proposals for the state.
Nov 10, 2021
Florida's Senate Committee on Reapportionment released draft congressional (S8008, S8006, S8004, S8002) and state senate (S8016, S8014, S8012, S8010) map proposals for the state.
Oct 19, 2021
Florida Democrats introduced legislation (HB 6053 and SB 530) that would eliminate a public record exception for redistricting plans, making draft plans and associated documents available to the public.
Sep 22, 2021
The Florida legislature launched a new website for the redistricting process. The website allows the public to get involved by submitting comments and drawing maps. Submitted plans are available for public review.
Jul 3, 2021
The Florida State Senate named the chair of the Senate Reapportionment Committee.
Apr 26, 2021
Florida gains one congressional seat following the 2020 census. Florida will now have twenty-eight congressional seats beginning in 2022.

Institution

Florida’s congressional lines are drawn by the legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.  The state legislative lines are drawn by the legislature and passed as a joint resolution, which is not subject to gubernatorial veto.

The state legislative plan is automatically sent to the Florida Supreme Court for review; if the plan is unlawful, the Court will allow the legislature another opportunity to redraw the lines. Similarly, if the legislature does not develop a map, the Attorney General must ask the state Supreme Court to draw the legislative district lines. No similar provision exists for congressional lines. [Fla. Const. art. III, § 16(b)-(e)]

Timing

Florida state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Apr. 29, 2022. [Fla. Stat. § 99.061(1)]  The legislative session is currently scheduled to begin on Mar. 2, 2021, and end on Apr. 30, 2021.

State legislative lines must be drawn in the legislative session in the second year after the federal Census is conducted.  If the legislature does not meet this deadline, it will be reconvened in a special 30-day session to draw legislative districts; if it again fails to pass a plan, the Attorney General must ask the state Supreme Court to draw the district lines.  [Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 316(a)-(b)]  This legislative session is currently scheduled to begin on Jan. 11, 2022, and end on Mar. 12, 2022.  Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by June 17, 2022.  [Fla. Stat. § 99.061(1)]

Florida law ties the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Fla. Const. art. III, § 16(a)]

Public input

In the last cycle, the legislature held 26 public hearings throughout the state to consider public input on redistricting after the census. Meeting records of the relevant legislative committees are archived here; committee meetings are also recorded on video.

The redistricting committees have not yet announced any specific plans or guidelines for public input this cycle.

Criteria

Like all states, Florida must comply with constitutional equal population requirements. State law further asks that districts be as nearly equal in population as is practicable, if doing so does not interfere with minority rights; the state Supreme Court has interpreted this language to include some flexibility, just as the constitution does. [Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 20(b)21(b); In re Sen. J. Res. of Legis. Apportionment 1176, 83 So.3d 597, 630 (Fla. 2012)]

Florida must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.  State law further requires that districts “not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice.”  The state Supreme Court has interpreted this language to mirror the federal Voting Rights Act’s focus on functional electoral performance, triggered not by minority demographic percentages, but by evaluation of a minority community’s practical opportunities to elect candidates of choice.  This language also creates a state prohibition against retrogression, similar to the federal Voting Rights Act’s “section 5” authority before Shelby County v. Holder.  [Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 20(a)21(a); League of Women Voters v. Detzner, 172 So.3d 363, 404-06 (Fla. 2015); In re Sen. J. Res. of Legis. Apportionment 1176, 83 So.3d 597, 620-27 (Fla. 2012)]

Florida law also provides additional constraints for both state legislative and congressional districts. Districts must be contiguous, and where doing so does not conflict with minority rights, must utilize existing political and geographical boundaries where feasible; the courts have interpreted this to prohibit districts that split particularly large numbers of counties or cities or that do so in unjustified ways.  The state also requires that, where doing so does not conflict with minority rights, districts must be compact, in the sense that lines should not have an “unusual” or “bizarre” shape, with “unnecessary appendages”; the state Supreme Court has also critiqued districts with particularly low scores on specific measures — like the Reock score (ratio of district area to the area of the smallest circumscribed circle) or Convex Hull score (ratio of district area to the area of the smallest circumscribed convex polygon) — but emphasized that the state constitution does not require maximizing mathematical scores.  [Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 20(a)-(b)21(a)-(b); League of Women Voters v. Detzner, 172 So.3d 363, 402-03, 406 (Fla. 2015); In re Sen. J. Res. of Legis. Apportionment 1176, 83 So.3d 597, 632-636 (Fla. 2012)]  Districts may also overlap. [Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 16(a)]

No plan or individual district may be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent. [Fla. Const. art. III, §§ 20(a)21(a); In re Sen. J. Res. of Legis. Apportionment 1176, 83 So.3d 597, 615-19 (Fla. 2012)]

2010 cycle

Florida’s legislature passed congressional maps (SB 1174) on Feb. 9, 2012, which was signed on Feb. 16, 2012 and precleared on Apr. 30, 2012.

The congressional plan was struck down in state court on July 10, 2014, with respect to two districts, though 2014 elections were held under the existing 2012 map.  The state legislature passed remedial maps (SB 2-A) on Aug. 11, 2014, signed on Aug. 13, 2014.  On July 9, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court held that substantially more portions of the 2012 map were invalid, largely based on partisan intent impermissible under the state constitution, and returned the case for a more extensive redrawing of the lines before the 2016 election. After the legislature failed to agree on a subsequent remedial plan, the Florida Supreme Court on Dec. 2, 2015 approved a remedial map drawn by the courts.  [League of Women Voters v. Detzner, 179 So.3d 258 (Fla. 2015); League of Women Voters v. Detzner, 172 So.3d 363 (Fla. 2015)]  Further challenges to that plan in federal court were rejected.  [Brown v. Detzner, No. 4:15-cv-00398 (N.D. Fla. Apr. 18, 2016)]

Florida’s legislature passed state legislative maps (SJR 1176) on Feb. 9, 2012; on initial review, the state Supreme Court on Mar. 9, 2012, approved state House districts but struck down the state Senate plan.  On Mar. 27, 2012, the state legislature passed a revised Senate plan (SJR 2-B), which was approved by the state Supreme Court. The House and Senate plans were both precleared on Apr. 30, 2012.  On July 28, 2015, in the face of a court challenge, the Senate admitted that the new plan was again drawn with an undue influence of partisanship; when the legislature failed to agree on a remedial plan, the state court on Dec. 30, 2015, drew a new state Senate plan instead.  [League of Women Voters v. Detzner, No. 2012-CA-2842 (Fla. Cir. Ct., Leon Cnty. Dec. 30, 2015); Stipulation, League of Women Voters v. Detzner, No. 2012-CA-2842 (Fla. Cir. Ct., Leon Cnty. July 28, 2015); In re Sen. J. Res. of Legis. Apportionment 2-B, 89 So.3d 872 (Fla. 2012); In re Sen. J. Res. of Legis. Apportionment 1176, 83 So.3d 597 (Fla. 2012)]

2000 cycle

Florida’s legislature passed congressional maps (H1993) on Mar. 27, 2002, which were precleared on June 7, 2002.

Florida’s legislature also passed state legislative maps (H1987) on Mar. 28, 2002; the state Senate plan was precleared on June 20, 2002, but the state House plan drew an objection from the Department of Justice. A federal court modified the state House plan, based on the House Speaker’s proposed amendment to the legislative plan; this plan was later adopted by the legislature (H25), and precleared on Feb. 2, 2004.

The state legislative plans were automatically submitted to state court, and upheld. Both the legislative plans and the congressional plan were also challenged in federal court, and both were ultimately upheld. [In re Constitutionality of House Joint Resolution 25E, 863 So.2d 1176 (Fla. 2003); In re Constitutionality of House Joint Resolution 1987, 817 So.2d 819 (Fla. 2002); Martinez v. Bush, 234 F. Supp. 2d 1275 (S.D. Fla. 2002)]

Redistricting Cases in Florida

Search all Florida Cases >

Florida | State Trial | Congress
Black Voters Matter v. Lee
PENDING - State court challenge to congressional map as a partisan and racial gerrymander in violation of the state constitution.
Last Updated Apr 27, 2022
Case Number

2022-ca-_______

Cycle 2020
Florida | Federal Trial | Congress | Process
Common Cause v. Lee
PENDING - Federal court challenge asking court to intervene in the congressional redistricting process
Last Updated Mar 16, 2022
Case Number

Original No. 5:22-cv-00059 (N. D. Fla.); Current No. 4:22-cv-00109 (N.D. Fla.)

Cycle 2020
Florida | State Trial | Congress
Arteaga v. Lee
PENDING - State court challenge asking court to intervene in the congressional redistricting process
Last Updated Mar 11, 2022
Case Number
Cycle 2020