Three days after Rick Scott was sworn in as governor he set about slowing down the process by which the federal government would approve of two highly popular state constitutional amendments, 5 and 6, concerning the way lawmakers draw legislative and congressional districts.
Scott's spokesman suggested to The Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times and the Palm Beach Post that the governor wanted more information. `Census data has not been transmitted to the state yet..."
Democrats said at the time that the census-data argument was nonsense because the state didn't need the figures to get the amendments provisionally approved by the feds
Well, as of today, some of that data is now in anyway.
The federal government sent Scott and other state leaders a letter today informing Florida that the "2010 Census Block Assignment Files" are now available. (text of letter below)** All the data has yet to be provided. But still, it's now coming in.
That data is crucial for redistricting, the once-a-decade process of redrawing political boundaries to ensure that politicians represent roughly the same number of constituents. The process has long been the ultimate contest of political horse-trading and skullduggery, one in which the majority party tries to ensure through clever means that it has more of a competitive edge in more districts.
As a result, a liberal -leaning group called "Fair Districts Florida" got Amendments 5 and 6 on the ballot. They're designed to prohibit the Legislature from intentionally drawing districts to favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties.
Republican lawmakers tried to pass their own initiative, but it was struck from the ballot after a judge declared it was misleading. They have also tried to stop the effort in court. Along with one Democratic U.S. Rep., Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, Republicans filed a federal court action the day after voters approved the amendments with about 63 percent of the vote.
Elected with a 1.2 percent margin, Scott reversed predecessor Charlie Crist's petition that the U.S. Justice Department "pre-clear" (that is, review and approve) the measures, pursuant to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
``One of the things that we're looking at is the amendments that were passed, how they're going to be implemented,'' Scott told reporters shortly after they learned of his petition to slow the review and approval. ``We want to make sure that with regard to redistricting, it's fair, it's the right way of doing it. So it's something I'm clearly focused on.''
**Text of census letter:
On behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau Director, Dr. Robert M. Groves, I am writing this letter regarding the upcoming data releases for the 2010 Census Redistricting Data Program.
The results of the 2010 Census will come to you in a series of five mailings: one that will provide you with the 2010 Census Redistricting Data [P.L. 94-171] Summary Files, one that supplies you with the 2010 Census Redistricting Data [P.L. 94-171] ] Summary Files’ technical documentation, and three that will supply the geographic support products. The purpose of this letter is to provide you with a copy of the 2010 Census Block Assignment Files and Name Look-up tables (a geographic product) for your state.
The 2010 Census Block Assignment Files contain statewide 2010 Census tabulation block listings for a series of geographies. The Name Look-up tables provide a listing of those geographies by code and name. Web links to the data and documentation for all available redistricting related Census products are located on the Redistricting Data Office’s website at www.census.gov/rdo on the “Data” tab.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or the Assistant Chief, James Whitehorne.
Cathy McCully, Chief
2010 Census Redistricting Data Office