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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

You can now wear one of Florida's gerrymandered districts as a necklace

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 6:51 PM

If you've ever wanted to commemorate the absurd partisan lines drawn by Florida lawmakers to disenfranchise certain voters, now's your chance!

Gerrymander Jewelry is selling necklaces and pins shaped like the most weirdly drawn Congressional districts across the country, including Florida's 4th Congressional District.

"Every two years, you choose your legislators, but every 10 years, your legislators choose you," the ad says. "Whether you're black, Hispanic, Asian or just a Democrat, Gerrymander reminds you politicians have gone to amazing lengths to minimize your vote."

Each pendant comes in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold for $195.

"What a beauty," the website says in its description of Florida's district.
"FL-4 carefully carves out the city of Jacksonville, because cities make districts go blue."

Gerrymander Jewelry was created by former Funny or Die executive producer Ben Sheehan, who has since launched the Democratic political action committee OMG WTF. The organization focuses on electing Democratic nominees for state offices in Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas and Florida. In particular, OMG WTF is focusing on gubernatorial races, because governors in key states like Florida can veto upcoming congressional districting maps that may be gerrymandered.

"After the 2010 Census Republican governors, state legislators, and commissioners gerrymandered dozens of Congressional districts – and in 2012, although Democratic House candidates got 1.5 million more votes, Republicans won a 33-seat majority," the PAC states on its website. "This happened because Republicans drew lines 'packing' Democrats into some districts – or 'cracking' them across many – to minimize their votes. And these lines will last from 2012-2020. … If we elect Democratic governors in these states, they’ll prevent Republican Congressional gerrymandering between 2022-2031."

click to enlarge A past version of CD 5 - ILLUSTRATION VIA WASHINGTON POST
  • Illustration via Washington Post
  • A past version of CD 5
Florida voters outlawed partisan gerrymandering through a ballot initiative in 2010. At the time, the most egregious example of gerrymandering, CD 5, ran like a serpent from Jacksonville to Orlando and artificially grouped African American voters from North and Central Florida into one district. As NPR reports, CD 5 was "gerrymandered legally" because the federal Voting Rights Act mandates putting enough voters in a district to give candidates of color a "fair shot at winning." But that also diluted Democratic voting power in surrounding districts and allowed Republicans to favor their candidates across the state.

Despite the 2010 mandate from voters, Republican lawmakers continued to draw partisan lines through various shenanigans, including rigging the public redistricting process by having GOP operatives secretly draw maps they later introduced through random members of the public. After years of legal wrangling and millions in taxpayer money spent, the Florida Supreme Court approved a version of districts inspired by maps submitted by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other lawsuit plaintiffs in 2015.

Currently, Florida CD 4, which is represented by Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, takes in most of Jacksonville but leaves out a bird-shaped chunk. That bird-shaped chunk is instead included in the new iteration of CD 5, which now runs from Jacksonville all the way to Tallahassee and is represented by Democratic Rep. Al Lawson.

An analysis from FiveThirtyEight shows CD 4 has been drawn to include a majority of white people in its boundaries and has a 99.5 percent chance of being represented by a Republican. Meanwhile, CD 5 was drawn as a "minority-majority" coalition with African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islander and other non-white people making the majority of the population. The district has a 97.6 percent chance of being represented by a Democrat.

Gerrymander Jewelry is a funny way to address the fact that, as Vox reports, whoever is victorious in the upcoming November election of 2018 will influence the next decade of congressional redistricting.

"TX-35 runs 100 miles from Austin to San Antonio," Gerrymander Jewelry states on its website. "NC-6 splits the largest historically black public college into two separate districts – so if you move across campus, you have to re-register to vote. … If you’d like to turn these pendants into relics, vote for governors who can veto Congressional lines so that they no longer resemble our jewelry."

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