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A Florida legislator wants the state to count convicts as residents at their home addresses, not their prisons.

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.

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Democrats preparing for GOP gerrymandering in Florida

Democrats in Tallahassee are worried their Republican counterparts in the legislature will return to their partisan gerrymandering ways at their next opportunity, now that the Florida Supreme Court majority has shifted this year to conservative from liberal.

But GOP lawmakers told the Orlando Sentinel they do not have designs on drawing districts for the coming decade that are aggressively shaped to perpetuate their political strength.

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San Francisco is one of more than a dozen cities where ranked-choice voting is already used. Here voters cast ballots in the mayoral race in San Francisco.

New Florida push for ranked-choice voting faces obstacles

Add Jacksonville, the fourth biggest city in Florida, to the list of communities where activists are attempting to implement ranked-choice voting to encourage more participation and less rancor in politics.

And within days, a new statewide organization promoting the increasingly popular alternative to the traditional vote-for-one candidate system is expected to be announced.

But both efforts are likely to face legal obstacles that could hobble the latest democracy reform drive in the nation's most populous politically purple state.

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Clarence Singleton registers to vote under a new Florida law allowing convicted felons to regain their voting rights. This summer Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that requires felons to first pay all outstanding fines and fees, prompted several lawsuits claiming discrimination.

Expert: Law blocks most Florida felons from regaining voting rights

The new law requiring felons in Florida to pay all their fines and court fees before getting their voting rights restored would leave about 80 percent of them unable to register, according to research that is part of a legal challenge to the law.

Professor Daniel Smith, chairman of the University of Florida political science department, also found that black convicts would be more likely to be left on the sidelines during elections than white convicts.

Smith submitted his testimony on behalf of several convicted felons who would be blocked from restoring their voting rights as well as the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.

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