Within its first days in power, the new administration of Governor Rick Scott, through its Department of State, took extraordinary steps to thwart the will of the overwhelming majority of Florida voters who voted for redistricting reform in Florida.
On, November 2, 63% of Florida voters amended the Florida Constitution to include new non-partisan redistricting standards. When new laws affect voting as these do, the Voting Rights Act requires that the standards be reviewed and “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department (DOJ). It is the duty of the state to request DOJ pre-clearance. Governor Crist ordered that a formal request for pre-clearance be filed. The Florida Secretary of State’s office filed that request on December 10, 2010.
On January 7, 2011, as one of its first acts, the new administration of Governor Rick Scott, through its Department of State, in an apparent attempt to thwart the will of the voters, wrote to DOJ withdrawing the amendments from review. The Governor’s Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, was Chairman of Protect Your Vote -- the committee that spent millions of dollars opposing Amendments 5 and 6.
Dan Gelber, Counsel to FairDistricts Now, called the Secretary of State’s office to ask the reasons for the withdrawal and was told, “We cannot tell you why, only that we were directed to do so.” Another official indicated that he did not know if it would be resubmitted. Attached is a letter from FairDistricts Now to Secretary Browning, requesting that he re-submit the application for pre-clearance from the DOJ.