TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- State lawmakers must reverse course and start over. A North Florida judge ordered them to redraw congressional districts deemed illegal.
The Women League of Voters of Florida, among other plaintiffs, sued the legislature over congressional maps and won. Now, a judge has agreed the maps must be redrawn to effect this year's elections.
"We think that this is a champagne day for Florida voters," said Jessica Lowe-Minor, executive director of the Women League of Voters of Florida. "Something that relates to whether or not our Democracy is fundamentally sound is well worth the extra trip to the polls."
Leon County Judge Terry Lewis ruled in July that Districts 5 and 10 were drawn to favor Republicans. Now, he orders they must be fixed by Aug. 15 and for elections officials to propose a special election date to meet that deadline as well.
"The Republicans are not surprised by this ruling. What was surprising was their effort to not appeal," said political expert Trimmel Gomes.
Gomes says this process can cause confusion and take a lot of resources but was necessary. "The goal is to make sure that voters are not disenfranchised in any way because of this process."
Without an appeal, the legislature has no choice but to follow through. Speaker Will Weatherford has called a special session to start this Thursday.
In a memo to fellow lawmakers, he writes "the Florida Legislature has decided to produce a Congressional map to address the Court's limited concerns."