A must-read from Inside the Lines: What Florida's congressional districts could look like under 'Fair Districts'

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Juris Doctorate candidate Nicholas Ortiz recently finished the onerous congressional redistricting task that Florida lawmakers just began. The work is based largely on the 2010 U.S. Census population for Florida of roughly 18.8 million. Ortiz? challenge was to draw 27 districts instead of the current 25, each with the same population of about 696,345.

In doing that, Ortiz applied ?raditional districting principles??essentially meaning contiguous, compact and of equal population ?in creating the scheme intended to comply with the complex and sometimes conflicting legal requirements.

? sought to draw a map that reflects how I believe Florida divides geographically and culturally,?writes Ortiz in a 28-page memo in which he explains his redistricting plan.

Except for a recent three months when he lived in downtown Miami, Ortiz lived in Fruit Cove, a suburb of Jacksonville in St. Johns County for 13 years.

Ortiz worked under the direction of Columbia University School of Law professor Nate Persily, a redistricting expert whom courts relied on to redraw lines in four states following the 2000 Census.

Using state-of-the-art software to develop the new district boundaries, Ortiz applied the federal Voting Rights Act and state constitutional requirements to come up with the maps for Florida? 27 seats. In the detailed legal analysis, Ortiz explains his rationale for drawing the lines where he did to meet the sometimes conflicting criteria of state and federal laws.

In Ortiz? plan, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, won? have her current District 11 stretch across Tampa Bay to pick up a predominantly black community in south St. Petersburg or dip down to pick up parts of Palmetto and Bradenton.

Ortiz? proposed District 14 is more compact in keeping with one of the key new requirements of the state constitution. The new district boundaries are entirely within Hillsborough County, including Tampa and the near suburbs directly north.

Continue reading this story at InsidetheLinesFLA.com.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.