After each decennial Census the Legislature redraws the districts from which Florida voters elect their state representatives, state senators, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Redistricting is the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts to adjust for uneven growth rates in different parts of the state. Districts determine which voters participate in which elections.
Reapportionment is the redistribution of seats in the United States House of Representatives among the 50 states, based on the decennial census. Each state gets at least one seat. Effective with elections in 2022 Florida gets 28 representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, an increase of one from last decade. Two U.S. Senators represent the entire state.
The Reapportionment Process (PDF) flowchart shows the process for approving new state house and senate districts (See Article III, Section 16 of the Florida Constitution). It also indicates the paths followed dating back to 1972. The process is different for congressional districts, which are set by act of the Legislature and approved by the Governor (there is no mandatory review by the Florida Supreme Court).
Between 2010 and 2020, the resident population in Florida increased from 18,801,310 to 21,538,187. The average number of people in each congressional district increased from 696,345 to 769,221. The average number of people in each of 120 state house districts increased from 156,678 to 179,485. The average number of people in each of 40 state senate districts increased from 470,033 to 538,455.
The Voting Rights Act requires the creation of a district that performs for racial and language minorities where (1) a minority population is geographically compact and sufficiently numerous to be a majority in a single district; (2) the minority population is politically cohesive; (3) the majority votes sufficiently as a bloc to enable it usually to defeat the minority-preferred candidate; and (4) under all of the circumstances, the minority population has less opportunity than others to participate in the political process and elect representatives of its choice.
The Voting Rights Act also prohibits purposeful discrimination and protects against retrogression—or backsliding—in the ability of racial and language minorities to elect representatives of their choice. Prior to the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, which negated the coverage formula in the Act, these requirements applied only to certain counties in Florida: Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe. Districts containing parts of these covered jurisdictions had to be submitted to and precleared by a federal court or the United States Department of Justice before the redistricting plan could be enforced. The Shelby County decision means the preclearance process established by the Voting Rights Act is no longer in effect, but it does not affect the validity of the diminishment standard in the Florida Constitution.
Article III, Section 16 of the State Constitution requires the Legislature to divide the state into 30 to 40 contiguous senatorial districts and 80 to 120 contiguous house districts. A district is contiguous if all of its territory is in actual contact, uninterrupted by the territory of another district. Contact at a corner or right angle is insufficient, but territory may cross bodies of water. The Constitution allows state legislative districts to overlap, either partially or entirely.
In November 2010, the voters added amendments to the State Constitution in Article III, Sections 20 and 21. These Amendments prohibit line-drawing that intentionally favors or disfavors a political party or an incumbent. The Amendments also afford protection to racial and language minorities. Districts may not be drawn (1) with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process; or (2) to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice. Finally, unless it would conflict with the standards described above, the Amendments require that district populations be as nearly equal as practicable, and that districts be compact and, where feasible, follow existing political and geographical boundaries.
The Florida Constitution directs the Legislature to redraw district boundaries at its Regular Session in the second year following each decennial census, which will begin on January 11, 2022. Prior to the start of the 2022 Regular Session the Legislature will hold interim committee meetings, at which time the committees that conduct the redistricting and reapportionment processes may meet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Census Bureau’s Timeline for Releasing Redistricting Data. While the six-month delay will shorten the period of time the Florida Legislature has to redraw state legislative and congressional districts, the process will remain open and transparent with numerous opportunities for public participation. Floridians will have free and easy access to the same redistricting data and applications used by legislators and staff, and the Legislature will accept comments and suggestions gathered from the public in an interactive and inclusive redistricting process. The table below shows key events in the 2022 Redistricting process, and will be updated as additional events are added.
April 26, 2021: Census Bureau releases statewide population totals for apportioning the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
September 30, 2021: Census Bureau’s projected date for release of PL 94-171 Redistricting Data
Fall of 2021: Interim Committee Meetings
January 11, 2022: 2022 Regular Session convenes
March 11, 2022: 60th Day of 2022 Regular Session
June 13 - 17, 2022: Qualifying for state and federal offices
July 9, 2022: Primary Election overseas ballot mailing
August 23, 2022: Primary Election
September 24, 2022: General Election overseas ballot mailing
November 8, 2022: General Election