Special Election November 3, 1959
Citizens: Every Vote Counts. Make Yours An Informed Vote.
The Proposal: Amend Article VII of the Florida Constitution, providing a new formula For
for apportioning seats in the Legislature and providing for future reapportionment. Against
95 members: 103* members:
3 each to the five most 5 to the most populous county
populous counties 4 each to the next 2 counties
2 each to the next 18 counties 3 each to the next 6 counties
1 each to the remaining 44 counties 2 each to the next 14 counties
1 each to the remaining 44 counties
38 districts, each with one senator 44* districts, each with one senator
No county may be divided No county may be divided
Counties of a district must be contiguous Counties of a district must be contiguous
(No restriction on number of counties within a district) Maximum of three counties within a district
Apportionment of each senatorial district shall be "as Apportionment "shall provide fairness and equity among
nearly equal in population as practicable." districts based upon population, geographic area,
and economic affinity."
*New seats to be filled in 1960
Reapportionment of House and Senate in 1925 and every ten years thereafter. If legislature fails to reapportion,
special session must be called by Governor; no provision for adjournment until reapportionment is accomplished.
Reapportionment of the House in 1961 and every ten years thereafter; of the Senate in 1971 and every ten years thereafter.
If Legislature fails to reapportion, special session must be called by Governor or Legislature. If reapportionment is
not accomplished within 60 days, Governor or Legislature may adjourn session to a future date, or sine die, but "its duty
to reapportion shall continue in every session of whatever type until apportionment has been effected."
Those Who Support It Say:
All of the 8 new House seats and the 6 new Senate
districts go to the more populous growing counties. This
means that the percentage of voters who elect a majority
of the House would be raised from 15.4% to 18.5%; of
the Senate, from 13.5% to 14.5% (based on 1957 population
estimates.) The reshuffling of seats in the House
following the 1960 census will give a still greater voice
to a greater number of people.
The proposal recognizes existing practice by adding
"geographic area" and "economic affinity" to population
as the criteria for setting up senatorial districts. All of these
factors should be considered, since coastal and forest, agricultural
and resort, rural and urban areas all have different
problems. Furthermore it specifies that apportionment
"shall provide fairness and equity among districts."
Adoption of this amendment will have a definite effect
on existing influence-patterns in the Legislature. It would
give Florida a better opportunity to achieve a still better
plan in a future session than it would have under the existing
formula. The new votes could swing the balance in
the Legislature on a constitutional amendment, which requires
a 3/5 vote.
Some states have additional means of obtaining apportionment,
such as by a commission appointed by their
Governor. In Florida, only the Legislature can reapportion,
and it is bound by oath of office to do so. Costly
extra or special sessions have not achieved acceptable reapportionment.
The amendment recognizes this by permitting
the Legislature to adjourn but requiring that reapportionment
continue to be the order of business until
Ideal laws are reached step by step, with many concessions
and compromises. If the present formula is retained,
there is no reason to expect further compromise during
the next few years. If the amendment passes, 14 new seats
will be filled in 1960, and the dangerous stalemate which
has gripped the state for three sessions can be broken.
Those Who Oppose It Say:
The proposed formula offers no significant increase in
representation to the most populous counties. In spite of
the added seats, more than half of the people of the state
would elect only about 16% of the Legislature. As at
present, apportionment of House seats is set according to
a frozen formula which cannot adjust with population increase
or decrease, making it impossible to have representation
proportionate to population. After 1960 the
Senate would remain unchanged until 1971; by this time
the populous areas of the state will have grown so that
over half the people of the state will have a smaller voice
in the Legislature than ever.
The amendment adds "geographic area" and "economic
affinity" to population as criteria for establishing
senatorial districts. At present, a tax-payer's suit attacking
senatorial redistricting stands some chance of success
in a Florida court. Almost no future redistricting could
be successfully challenged in the courts because these new
terms are so vague as to justify any conceivable arrangement
The amendment limits senatorial districts to a maximum
of three counties. At present, there is no maximum,
and there are three districts of four counties each. The
new limitation, along with the other criteria, force
Florida to accept over-represented districts without any
regard for population.
The amendment permits the Legislature to adjourn
sine die without having redistricted the Senate. This
grants the Legislature the constitutional privilege to
avoid its constitutional duty.
This is the third new formula for apportionment that
the Legislature has proposed in recent years. Each plan
has been slightly better than the preceding one; this is
no time to stop. If adopted, this will be the last proposal
for a long time, and will freeze the proposed distribution
of seats indefinitely. If defeated, Florida can demand a
formula more favorable to a majority of its voters.
The Success of Democratic Government Depends on Those Who Care
Vote November 3, 1959
Compiled by the League of Women Voters of Florida
Copies available 45c per hundred (Tax included) from:
Mrs. Jack Hurck, Publication Chairman, Box 226, Cocoa Beach, Florida