TALLAHASSEE, Florida - When it comes to Florida's once-a-decade process of redrawing political boundaries, known as redistricting, both House and Senate Republican leaders have made no provision for receiving live public comment on proposed maps during the process.
The top-ranking Democrat on the Florida House Redistricting Committee, state Rep. Joe Geller - D-Broward & Miami-Dade Counties - said he's been continuing calls publicly and privately for his Republican colleagues to make provisions for the public to have input on the shaping of their voting districts in the future.
But he said so far he's not seeing anything concrete despite how easy it is to implement.
"We should be able to sit right where I'm sitting now, in my living room, and look at Zoom testimony from Floridians all across the state," said Geller.
House redistricting chairman Rep. Tom Leek - R-Volusia County - didn't respond to Geller's questions during a hearing of the full reapportioning committee last week.
But state Rep. Tyler Sirois - R-Brevard County - who chairs the subcommittee on congressional redistricting, has said the idea has not been definitively ruled out.
Ten years ago, the Legislature staged public hearings around the state. Geller said in light of concerns of COVID, he doesn't think that is necessary.
But he said he does believe public input should happen - either via Zoom or setting up sites around the state where people who don't have access to the internet can show up and still participate at a remote location.
"I think it's important that we hear and take testimony from the people of the state, and I think there is an incredibly easy way to do that," said Geller. "Why don't we do that? We should do that."
Instead of making participation easier for citizens, Republican leaders in the redistricting process are being criticized for scheduling two subcommittee meetings at the same time.
So if voters were interested in tracking both legislative and congressional redistricting meetings, they had to figure out how to be in two places at once in order to participate in the process.
The Legislature's option for citizens to participate is via the website FloridaRedistricting.gov
Source: Florida News Connection