The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2 – establishes reapportionment based on a national census conducted every 10 years for allocating U.S. House of Representatives; the first census was taken in 1790.
Apportionment or Reapportionment refers to the allocation of seats among units, such as Congressional seats among the states or Legislative seats among the counties. For example, Florida was allocated two additional Congressional seats following the 2010 Census, bringing our total to 27 representatives for our 18.8 million population.
The U.S. Constitution also requires states to periodically redraw electoral district lines to account for population shifts.
Redistricting is the process of adjusting electoral district boundaries, usually in response to census results; district boundaries determine which voters can participate in electing a representative.
The Legislature’s role in redistricting is to redraw district lines with respect to the ideal populations for each district. The Florida House and Senate Committees on Redistricting have therefore determined the ideal populations for our 27 Congressional seats, 40 State Senate seats and 120 State House seats based on the U.S. Census population statistics for the State of Florida.
The Legislature was charged with adopting a joint resolution with the new federal and state districts before the end of its 2012 regular session (January 10-March 9, 2012). In order for these new district lines to take effect, the Florida Attorney General must petition the Florida Supreme Court for a declaratory statement within 15 days of the adoption of the joint resolution; the Florida Supreme Court must enter judgment within 30 days after the petition; and the U.S. Department of Justice must review the lines within 60 days. If all entities approve, the district lines will be in effect until the next year of redistricting in 2022. Congressional district lines do not require a court review.
Congressional, state house and state senate maps all completed their review process.
Part of the Supervisor of Elections’ role in redistricting is to review and provide suggestions for the county’s Voting Tabulation Districts to the Senate Committee on Reapportionment. This process, which was completed in 2009, is designed to help keep areas such as subdivisions and apartment complexes within cohesive districts.
In January 2011, the Supervisor received TIGER files (topologically integrated geographic encoding and referencing files) from the U.S. Census Bureau. These files included roads, railroads, waterways, etc. and were compared with the county parcel maps for accuracy . County polling places were later added to the files to help plan for any possible changes in locations. Any suggested changes or corrections were submitted to the Legislature.
The Supervisor redrew precinct lines within all districts throughout the county as needed, and submitted all changes to the Board of County Commissioners, receiving approval on May 22, 2012. (Explanation of reprecincting process)
The Supervisor is required to notify the Secretary of State within 30 days of any precinct changes and furnish a map with the precinct boundaries.
In May 2012, the Supervisor updated all voter files and in June/July, she mailed new voter information cards with updated information to all registered voters.
As the federal and state district lines were being redrawn, the Board of County Commissioners, School Board and municipalities with single-member districts redrew their district lines where population had shifted as well.
The Board of County Commissioners approved new county commission district lines at their September 27, 2011 meeting.
All precinct line changes made by the Supervisor of Elections were approved by the County Commissioners on May 22, 2012. (View new precinct map)
Voters participated in the process by attending public hearings from July through September 2011. The schedule was posted on the Florida House Committee on Redistricting Web site.
Voters were provided MyDistrictBuilder to submit ideas for district lines, an online program available on the Florida House Committee on Redistricting Web site or the Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment's Web site.
Voters were also permitted to share ideas with their state representatives and state senators by telephone, fax or email. Contact information for elected officials is available on this Web site by selecting Voter Information/Elected Officials from the menu bar.
For more information, visit the Florida House Committee on Redistricting Web site or the Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment's Web site.
Sources: John Guthrie, Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment, Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment Web site, Florida House Committee on Redistricting Web site