Redistricting lawsuits put pressure on local election officials if new maps are ordered by election

Redistricting lawsuits challenging Duval’s new 4th Congressional District and another challenging city council and school board districts could put local election officials in an untenable situation if the maps are changed before the August Primary.

A lot of planning goes on in preparation for an election and it all relies on knowing district lines.

When supervisors receive new maps after redistricting, they first lay the maps over each other.

Congressional, state Senate, state House, city council, school board… It’s not hard to imagine just how jumbled it can get.

Florida Supervisor of Elections President, Wesley Wilcox, told us supervisors spend weeks analyzing the district intersections to establish voting precincts.

“So there’s probably three to four weeks of just data analysis back at the elections office before we can push the button and say, okay here’s the new district,” said Wilcox.

Once that process is complete, supervisors have to multitask.

Designing new ballots for precincts, and printing and mailing new voter information cards to residents informing them of their precincts can take weeks in and of itself.

“This unfortunately just not an instantaneous process,” said Wilcox.

None of those things can happen until supervisors know the maps, which is why Wilcox says legal challenges seeking to redraw congressional, city council, and school board maps in Duval County could cause a real problem for local election officials.

If a court changes a map this late in the process, supervisors will have to start all over, and Wilcox worries that could lead to voter confusion.

“Until these lines get finalized voters really can’t educate themselves fully on, okay am I in that congressional district or am I in this one, who do I need to look at?” said Wilcox.

Supervisors have said they must have maps solidified by May 13, which is only eight days from now.

“Something is going to have to give sometime real soon,” said Wilcox.

Duval’s supervisor of elections, Mike Hogan, declined to be interviewed for this story because he’s named as a defendant in the lawsuits challenging the state and local maps.

He did tell us over the phone his office has to send out 650,000 new voter information cards before the August Primary.

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