BRADENTON – The Florida Legislature is being called back to Tallahassee this Thursday to create new congressional district maps. The order for a special session comes after a judge ruled on Friday that redistricting maps for two Congressional districts in central Florida were not drawn in compliance with the so-called Fair Districts amendment that was passed by statewide voter referendum in 2012.
Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued an order on Friday giving the Florida Legislature two weeks to design a new congressional map that doesn't conflict with the state's Fair District requirements, which prohibits districts from being drawn for the benefit of any candidate or party.
Three weeks earlier, Lewis had ruled that seats held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) and Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden) were drawn by lawmakers with partisan intent. The Legislature did not appeal the ruling, but their lawyers argued that they should have until the 2016 elections to redo the maps for those districts.
Lewis, however, ordered the Legislature to draw a new map by August 15, with an August 20 hearing for both sides to argue over its merits. The 2014 primary elections are scheduled for August 26, giving both sides as well as Florida Supervisors of Elections precious little time to prepare. Further complicating the two races is the fact that absentee ballots for the August 26 race have already started arriving at SOE offices.
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