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Latino advocates call for greater transparency in Florida redistricting effort

Photo: Danielle Prieur
Photo: Danielle Prieur

Latino leaders are calling for greater transparency as Florida draws new congressional maps after the latest U.S. census. The Florida Senate took up its version of the congressional maps Thursday.

Leaders from Latino advocacy organizations see some opportunities where the Florida Senate-drawn map will provide greater representation for voting-age Latinos with additional Hispanic-majority districts drawn in the state and opportunities for more Latino lawmakers to win seats across Florida.

But advocates are concerned the process has lacked transparency. "There have been no public hearings through this process," says Alianzo for Progress's Marcos Vilar. "We are going to live for 10 years with the results of this with no democratic public process."

Florida leaders redraw district maps every 10 years after the U.S. census. The state received an additional Congressional seat due to population growth.

“There has been virtually no public access to this redistricting process," says Democratic Florida House representative Carlos Guillermo Smith. "Ten years ago, state legislators hosted public meetings across the state of Florida seeking public input. This time, 10 years later in this redistricting cycle, there have been zero public meetings asking for input held outside of the state capitol, which is not acceptable as this process continues.”

Advocates say the few public events surrounding the redistricting processes didn’t provide translations for Spanish speakers. There were also no virtual opportunities for public comment despite the ongoing pandemic.

Redistricting maps must be approved by both the Florida House and Senate before heading to the Governor to be signed into law.

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
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