Groups Ask Governor to Stop Playing Politics with the Florida Constitution

Jackie Lee | 03/15/2011

Today, Democracia, Florida League of Women Voters and Florida NAACP sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott urging the re-submission of the FairDistricts amendments to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for approval.

With the delivery of Florida’s census data scheduled for today, it is time for our public officials to move forward with the implementation of the FairDistricts amendments. Federal law requires that any changes in the law that affect voting be submitted to the DOJ for preclearance as soon as possible after they become final. On December 10, 2010, former Governor Crist complied with his constitutional duty to follow the law and submitted the FairDistricts Amendments, newly enacted Sections 20 and 21 of Article III, of the Florida Constitution, for mandatory review by the United States Justice Department. On January 6, 2011, Governor Rick Scott withdrew Florida’s submission.

It is time for Governor Scott to stop delaying implementation of the amendments. The letter is below.

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March 15, 2011
Governor Rick Scott
The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Governor Scott:

The Code of Federal Regulations requires that “changes affecting voting should be submitted [for Justice Department clearance] as soon as possible after they become final.” 28 C.F.R. § 51.21. On December 10, 2010, former Governor Crist complied with his constitutional duty to follow the law and submitted the FairDistricts Amendments, newly enacted Sections 20 and 21 of Article III, of the Florida Constitution, for mandatory review by the United States Justice Department. On January 6, 2011, you withdrew Florida’s submission.

When your withdrawal was discovered, you indicated that you needed more information and mentioned the census data. While it is clear that the census data is irrelevant to submission for pre-clearance, it is our understanding that the data is being delivered to you today. So now that you have this additional information, we respectfully ask that you immediately re-submit the request for pre-clearance to the Department of Justice.

Resubmission of these reforms will avoid the need for further costly litigation. More importantly it will fulfill the wishes of the 63% of Floridians that supported these reforms.

On the same day that Florida voters approved Amendments 5 and 6, California voters approved new redistricting laws containing some of the same standards as our new constitutional provisions. Like Florida, California submitted its voting changes for pre-clearance in early December. California received that clearance over a month ago. Presumably the Justice Department would have already pre-cleared Florida’s new redistricting standards had you not withdrawn them from consideration.

The only apparent reason for further delay of Justice Department submission is an intent to delay the implementation of the rules for redistricting that were overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters. Your immediate resubmission will demostrate to Floridians that you are not playing politics with the Florida Constitution.

As you know, our organizations and others have filed suit to compel the legally required submission.

Governor Scott, by re-submitting the new redistricting standards for pre-clearance, you will be eliminating the need for protracted and expensive litigation and fully complying with your oath of office to uphold the laws of the United States and the Florida Constitution.

Sincerely,

Deirdre Macnab
President LWV of Florida

Adora Obi Nweze
President NAACP

Jorge Mursuli
President Democracia


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