Florida’s top elections official said Thursday he is prepared to meet the noon deadline Friday to present a proposed special election schedule for the new congressional districts passed by the Florida Legislature this week.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner told supervisors of elections on a conference call Thursday that he was preparing “to give the court our definition of what it would take to run an election with regard the new maps.”
Legislators hope the judge rejects the options, and they expect Detzner to show how costly it will be to hold special elections in seven counties for seven slightly-modified congressional districts.
Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis invalidated the first map and ordered Detzner to propose a new elections schedule. He concluded that two districts, District 5, represented by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and District 10, represented by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, were improperly drawn with the intent to benefit Republicans.
The legislature concluded its three-day special session on Monday, revising seven of the state’s 27 congressional districts in response after its original map was declared an improper partisan gerrymander. Gov. Rick Scott signed the plan into law on Wednesday.
Although legislators remain confident that the new map will be approved by Lewis, two voting-rights groups that brought the lawsuit challenging the original districts said they will fight to have the new map rejected.
"We are disappointed to see that the remedial map approved this week by the Florida Legislature looks suspiciously like the map that Judge Lewis ruled unconstitutional and the fact that it was drawn behind closed doors only adds to the suspicion," said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida in a statement.
"The Legislature has a duty to abide by the Constitution, which they swore to uphold and enforce," said Peter Butzin, chairman of Common Cause Florida. "We believe they have once again fallen fall short of their sworn duty, and we will continue to urge Judge Lewis to adopt a constitutionally compliant map for the 2014 elections."
-- Staff Writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report