Florida Republicans have aggressively tried to thwart the will of Florida voters ever since Fair Districts Amendments 5 & 6 were passed. Having failed previous attempts they're at it again and now it appears they may be manipulating redistricitng software:
Will the GOP leadership now abide by the voter's will and draw legislative districts that comply with the Fair Districts guidelines?
Apparently not, based upon an analysis of the My District Builder software used by the Republican legislative staff assisting to draw Florida's proposed districts. A technical audit performed by the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee found the My District Builder software mysteriously deleted an entire section on compactness and geo spatial analysis. The missing section was designed to calculate ratios of compactness and make an overall scoring of compliance with the redistricting requirements under Amendment 5. The missing geo spatial analysis would give a mathematical rating in determining whether the new districts were drawn not to favor or disfavor incumbents or a political party and be compact, as equal in population as feasible, making use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
Palm Beach County DEC Chair Mark Alan Siegel has raised legitimate questions regarding why the speaker's office had ordered the removal of the compactness analysis. Those questions have not been answered. Although contained in the Legislature's initial release of the My District Builder software, the compactness and geo spatial analysis components were deleted by House Redistricting Committee staff soon after they appeared.
At public hearings on redistricting supposedly designed to allow voter input, committee members aren't including maps of any kind, and they have been "instructed" not to make any comments on any details in the process.
"Public hearings?" Not so much. At this point, one wonders why they'll conduct these meetings at all, and at tax payers expense. Voters want fair districts, yet the Republican legislators won't even allow a fair fight.
By removing the compactness and geospatial analysis from the software, new district lines drawn on party or incumbent lines are not as detectable without the geo spatial analysis numerical rating.
When the joint legislative redistricting public hearings come to your neighborhood this summer, it would be informative to get an answer as to why the geo spatial analysis section was removed by the legislative leadership. Unfortunately, the committee members have already been instructed not to comment on any aspect of the process. To the detriment of the public, the Redistricting Committee members will not bring with them any proposed plans for public comment.
The Legislature's current redistricting software, without the compactness statistical component, flaws the process and stacks the deck in favor of the incumbent Republican leadership. Florida voters will ultimately have to rely upon the state Supreme Court to generate a fair redistricting plan in order to get a fair deal.
If there's anyone out there who doubts the Republicans want to maintain power in Florida and expand that power, these so-called "public hearings" should certainly convince them otherwise. Voters attending these hearings should be allowed to ask questions and get fair answers. It appears trying to do so would be a waste of time, but voters need to be vocal and demand it.
This kind of manipulation is just one tactic at thwarting the will of the voters in our state. The legislature also enacted tougher voter restrictions this past session. Make no mistake, this is intended to act as a vote suppression effort because Republicans are aware of the changing tide in their favorability with voters, and it's not just happening in Florida.
Witness what's been happening in Wisconsin with union busting tactics and now recall elections where "fake" Democrats ran, and lost, against real Republicans, and the fight in Wisconsin isn't over by any means.
Republicans are desperate to keep control, now to the point of causing a financial meltdown not just to the country but worldwide, and why? Because they want to make President Obama a one term President. To do anything less would "harm the Republican brand" to quote Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also said this:
The time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces Washington to balance its books. If these debt negotiations have convinced us of anything, it’s that we can’t leave it to politicians in Washington to make the difficult decisions that they need to get our fiscal house in order. The balanced budget amendment will do that for them. Now is the moment. No more games. No more gimmicks. The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’re tried elections. Nothing has worked.
That's right, the Senate Minority Leader wants to amend the constitution because elections haven't worked in the Republican's favor. Also, by the way, that constitutional amendment, which includes the ‘cut, cap and balance’ plan would also end Medicare. (Where would they ever get the idea for a plan like this, one might wonder?)
Republicans have no interest in accountability for the damage they have done to this country, and but for themselves and the top 1 or 2% of the richest in America, and their corporate bosses, they have no interest in the consequences for the rest of us. As Mitch McConnell says, it's about the Republican brand. Nothing more.
Republicans in Florida and nationwide want power back and they'll bring the country to the brink if they have to in order to get there. What better place to start than thwarting the will of voters who are both witness and hostage to the revenge of the Republicans they dared not to put in the White House in 2008?
Voter suppression in the states. Start from the bottom up.