Florida joins debate over where to count prisoners when drawing district lines
Florida would become the seventh state to end so-called prison gerrymandering under legislation one state senator has promised to push hard next year.
The bill by Democrat Randolph Bracy, who represents the Orlando suburbs, would require the mapmakers who draw General Assembly districts to count prisoners as residents at their home addresses, instead of in the mostly rural areas where most of the state's penitentiaries are located. That current approach, Bracy argues, inflates the population of those rural areas at the expense of the big cities where most of the incarcerated come from.
The change would likely mean extra seats for the Orlando, Tampa and Miami metropolitan areas.
"I just think it is a matter of fairness. I don't know what the opposition will be," he told Florida Daily.
While Bracy said he doesn't think the move would favor either party in the redistricting for the next decade, which will happen after the 2020 census, there will likely be pushback from the Republicans who hold majorities in the legislature, because the rural districts that would lose population tend to be conservative.
Washington and Nevada were the most recent states to end prison gerrymandering. The other states that have dictated that prisoners should be counted at their home addresses are Delaware, California, Maryland and New York, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit that does research on crime and prison policy.
Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.
This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.
In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.
Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.
The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.