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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

The 2024 Presidential election could be fought and won in the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has drawn the congressional districts for this swing state.

DeSantis signed into law a new congressional map crafted by his own staff. That map outlines congressional districts which will serve for the qualification, nomination, and election of members to the U.S. House of Representatives in the primary and general elections held in 2022.

The Florida legislature had ceded responsibility for drawing new maps for congressional districts to Governor Ron DeSantis. He proposed an aggressively partisan redrawing of the state’s congressional boundaries which could help his party pick up four seats in the US House of Representatives this November. With 30 electoral votes in the Electoral College, Florida could shape the outcome of the next Presidential election.

Following the Census 2020 count and reapportionment, Florida’s 27 -member delegation to Congress (16 Republicans and 11 Democrats), will be bolstered by an additional seat.

DeSantis’ new map wll create 20 Republican seats and eight Democratic ones. It eliminates the 5th Congressional District which has nearly 44 percent black voters and the 10th Congressional District that is also represented by a black congressman.

Though Florida currently has five Black members of Congress, for more than 100 years the state had none. The new redistricting map significantly alters two of those heavily Black districts. By spreading out their Black voters it would cut the number of districts likely to elect Black Democrats from four to two. 

“From the outset this process has been fraught,” said Moné Holder, policy director for Florida Rising.

“State legislatures typically draw district lines, but Gov. DeSantis drew lines himself. The new maps would make it almost impossible for Black candidates and Democrats to win anyplace north of Orlando or outside of major cities.”

The redrawing of electoral district boundaries has become a tug of war between legislators and community leaders.

Legislative leaders want the redrawn districts to ensure an advantageous position for their interest groups while community leaders want the district boundaries to keep communities of color undivided.

Given that the redistricting after every census  will determine each community’s share of resources for the next decade, it’s no surprise that community leaders want the redrawn electoral districts to represent their numbers and their voice.

“We know that it doesn’t matter how many people of color turn out, they will have difficulty electing preferred candidates,” Holder said.

“But policymakers and party leaders cannot keep requiring voters of color to clear such substantial barriers, but must instead push proactive reforms that make it easier for all voters to participate in our nation’s democracy. Elected officials should not be able to depress voting in the way that Gov. DeSantis is seeking to do,” remarked Holder.

Several voting rights and civil rights organizations like Florida Rising, as well as a Democratic-aligned redistricting group, have sued over Florida’s new congressional map on the same day that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law.

However, there is little time to change the map before the August primaries in the lead-up to the November midterm elections, said Dr. Michael P. McDonald, investigator on the Public Mapping Project, which aims to encourage public participation in redistricting.

Dr. Michael P. McDonald, investigator on the Public Mapping Project

The Supreme Court has determined that it is too late to order new maps to be drawn before the next election even if a lower court finds problems with the maps.  New members of Congress will have already been voted into office in time for the 2024 Presidential election.

“Politically speaking, this has turned out to be a good strategy,” for DeSantis and other Republicans who want to regain a majority in the House of Representatives, observed McDonald.

But Black voters and communities of color fear it may result in an even steeper climb in electing candidates of choice.

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Ritu Marwah

Ritu Marwah is an award-winning author ✍️ and a recognized Bay Area leader in the field of 🏛 art and literature. A California reporting and engagement fellow at USC Annenberg’s Center for Health...