The Florida Secretary of State submitted an alternative election schedule Friday to a state judge who is considering whether or not a redrawn congressional map should apply to the midterms.
According to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, should the new map apply to this cycle, the earliest possible primary date for the seven districts affected by the new map would take place on March 17, 2015. The general election would follow on May 26, 2015. "Such a schedule in all likelihood violates federal law requiring that members of Congress be elected on November 4, 2014, and serve two-year terms beginning on January 3, 2015," Detzner wrote in his response to the court.
"The newly drawn congressional map passed by the legislature affects seven districts and 25 counties," Detzner's response stated. "After consultation with the County Supervisors of Elections ... it has been determined that it is not possible to conduct a special primary election for newly drawn congressional districts between the regularly scheduled Primary and General Elections or on the same day as the General Election."
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis set an Aug. 15 deadline for Detzner to submit the proposed schedule to help Lewis weigh his options in a hearing next week about the redrawn congressional map. After Lewis ruled that two districts violated the state's constitution in July, he ordered the legislature to redraw the map, which shifted the lines for seven districts. In his ruling, Lewis said he would consider the possibility of postponing the 2014 primary and general elections for the affected districts.
However, the proposed schedule is likely to bolster the Legislature's argument that the new map should not be enacted until after the midterms. The Legislature argued applying the new map to this cycle would create chaos since absentee ballots are already being returned for the current districts.
But the plaintiffs, which included groups such as Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, argue that the new districts should be enacted this cycle because voters should not elect representatives from districts that violate the state constitution.
Lewis will hold a hearing on Aug. 20 to evaluate the legislature's new map and the arguments surrounding the question of when the new map should be applied. A ruling is expected the following day.
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