TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida judge is being asked to move this year’s election dates – including postponing next month’s primary – in order to draw up new congressional districts for the state.
The request was filed Wednesday by a coalition of groups, including the League of Women Voters, who successfully challenged Florida’s current congressional map. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled earlier this month that the state Legislature illegally drew the districts in 2012 to primarily benefit the Republican Party.
Florida legislative leaders have said they will change the districts, but they want to wait until after the November elections to avoid disruption and problems at the polls. More than 1 million absentee ballots for the Aug. 26 primary went out this week.
David King, an attorney representing the League, argued in court papers that the Legislature has forfeited its right to draw the new districts and that it’s wrong to hold another election with an unconstitutional map. Instead the group wants Lewis to adopt a new map they filed, or use an independent expert to craft one.
King wrote that allowing legislators to “devise their own remedy for their own misconduct” would provide “the Legislature with yet another opportunity to violate the people’s trust.”
“If legislative defendants are allowed to once again avoid constitutional constraints that the voters have placed upon them, it will be a stain on the state of Florida and engender even greater public mistrust in elected officials,” King wrote.
In order to make sure there is time to put the new districts in place this year, the coalition presented several proposals to postpone the Aug. 26 primary.