FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Survey finds bipartisan opposition to gerrymandering

By Anne Geggis
FloridaPolitics.com
September 17, 2021

Voters would give up their party’s advantage for more fairness, the survey found.

Polarized political beliefs aside, voters are united in their view that districts drawn to favor one party over another undermine trust in election results, a new survey has found.

And that holds true even for the state’s Republicans, who currently have the power to draw maps that favor their party, according to statewide polling conducted by RepresentUS, which bills itself a national, nonpartisan group dedicated to improving elections.

It’s called gerrymandering, and Floridians — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — want it to stop, said Joe Kabourek, Senior Campaign Director for RepresentUS, during a news conference Thursday.

“Florida voters see gerrymandering as a partisan conflict of interest,” Kabourek said. “It’s used by politicians in power to go behind closed doors and rig the outcome of elections.”

The online survey of 428 Floridians found that, overall, 80% of voters oppose gerrymandering. Confine responses from former President Donald Trump supporters from President Joe Biden backers and the results don’t change that much. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents who said they voted for Trump are opposed to gerrymandering, compared to 88% of Biden voters who are also against it.

The issue is sure to come to the forefront this year as the Legislature redraws districts according to population shifts found in the 2020 census, a process that occurs every 10 years. The survey shows voters are expecting the worst. By three-to-one (43% to 14%), voters expect congressional and legislative districts in Florida to be gerrymandered, the survey found.

“There’s a lot of new technology out there that enables partisan Legislators to slice and dice districts with greater precision so they can further their own careers or their party’s efforts,” Kabourek said.

The maps drawn during last redistricting process resulted in a lawsuit challenging the maps as in violation of a 2010 constitutional amendment that passed with 62% of voters supporting it, the Fair Districts Amendment. The amendment said “districts may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent political party.”

The state Supreme Court ordered eight districts redrawn in 2015.

That lawsuit has made Florida voters more cognizant of the problem when compared to surveys of the same issue in other states, Kabourek said.

Democrats have been preparing for the latest fight for quite some time. Florida House Democrats formed the Working Group on Redistricting in 2017, four full years before redistricting.

The same group that pushed for the Fair District Amendment and sued when the results didn’t match the law say they are prepared to sue again.

The survey found voters would like lawmakers to leave the process to someone else entirely, Kabourek said. The survey found 64% of surveyed voters would like state politicians banned from drawing new maps determining legislative and congressional district boundaries.

The survey was conducted in Florida through an online panel administered by YouGov through email and text, according to RepresentUS officials who called it a representative sample of voters. The survey was taken June 30-July 8, 2021, the group said.

 

 

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