All across the country for the last few years, whenever politicians or the media talk about minority groups, they talk about the “Hispanic Vote,” lumping all Hispanic voters into a single group. But this statement is problematic for the United States, particularly in a state like Florida, in the context of redistricting, because Hispanic voters are not like other minority voters. Unlike black voters, Hispanic citizens, despite their shared language, are not one single homogenous block of voters. They come from different countries, have different cultures, and identify as different races. In fact, certain groups of Hispanics from some countries share strong animosity against groups of Hispanics from other countries. These differences, reflected in some Hispanic voting patterns, make it difficult for state legislatures to comply with the Voting Right Act when drawing district lines, but it can make it even more difficult for Hispanic plaintiffs to challenge districts because of the case law enunciated in Thornburg v. Gingles (1986). Gingles requires that a plaintiff challenging a state for violating §2 of the Voting Rights Act must prove that a minority is sufficiently large, politically cohesive, and that the majority votes as a block against the minority to prove vote dilution.
According to the 2010 census, the population of Orlando, FL has increased significantly over the past ten years, jumping from 185,951 in 2000 to a whopping 238,916 in 2010. This change in population has not occurred evenly over the city’s six districts, and new districts must be drawn as a remedy. This process is called redistricting.
Redistricting seeks to equalize representation in malapportioned districts. In Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims, two landmark United States Supreme Court decisions, the idea of equal representation came about through the notion of one person, one vote: “Whatever the means of accomplishment, the overriding objective must be substantial equality of population among the various districts, so that the vote of any citizen is approximately equal in weight to that of any other citizen in the State.”
In order to achieve a more even and representative portrait of Orlando, the Orlando City Council appointed a nine member board to handle the task of redistricting. In coming up with a proposed plan, the Redistricting Advisory Board also sought and received the input of many other Orlando citizens.