Suwannee Democrat

Opinion

October 22, 2010

OUR VIEW: The truth about Amendments 5 & 6

Live Oak — We’ve backed the the Fair Districts amendments, Nos. 5 and 6 on the Nov. 2 ballot, from the start. And from the start we’ve made clear this never was and never will be a partisan issue.

All we want is to be heard in Tallahassee, by way of a state senator who can claim at least a passing acquaintance with folks in Suwannee and neighboring counties.

Hardly what we have now. No offense to our current senator, former Citrus County Sheriff Charlie Dean, but his ties to these parts are tenuous at best.

Nonetheless, some folks have gotten the idea that this is about party dominance -- a mere attempt to wrest control of the legislature from Republicans.

For some it probably is.* Since there are more registered Democrats (4,630,000) in Florida than Republicans (4,040,000), they figure that Republican control of the state Senate and House must be the result of gerrymandering.

They’re wrong, and a new study proves it.

Political scientists at the University of Michigan and Stanford have shown that gerrymandering has little or nothing to do with Republican dominance in Florida politics. In fact, the July 2010 study concludes that “Republicans can expect to win around 59 percent of the seats [even] without any ‘intentional’ gerrymandering.”

That’s because Florida Democrats are often concentrated in urban districts, note authors Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden, while Republicans tend to be more evenly distributed throughout the state. 

(Never mind what we already knew -- that plenty of Democrats vote Republican in general elections, as is often the case in Suwannee. Some folks, Republicans at heart, stay registered as Democrats so they can vote in local primaries, which tend to be dominated by Democratic candidates.)

So the advent of compact, contiguous and “fair” districts -- as opposed to monstrosities like our own Senate District 3 -- won’t likely alter the balance of power in Tallahassee.

Fine. That’s not what we were after to begin with.

All we want is our own voice in the Florida Senate.

It’s that simple, folks.

If you feel you’d be better served in Tallahassee by a senator who hails from, say, Suwannee, Hamilton or Lafayette than one from Citrus or Marion counties -- the seats of money and power in District 3 -- you’ll vote yes on Amendments 5 & 6.

Hopefully folks in other underrepresented regions across the state will do the same and soon we’ll have our own voice in Tallahassee.

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