Two proposals offered by ACLU of Florida would make county elections more representative of the community

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363 - 2737

Tampa – At a meeting today of the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida joined with fellow community leaders and voting rights groups in support of plans to expand the number of single-member districts on the County Commission.

ACLU of Florida Director of Legal Operations Nancy Abudu, who recently joined the Florida affiliate after serving as senior staff counsel with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, presented the commissioners with two recommended plans for the reapportionment of Commission seats: a 5-2 plan which would leave two at-large seats, and a plan for 7 single-member districts.

“Adding more single-member districts, as the proposals we have submitted propose, would result in a more accurate reflection of the county’s voters and will result in more fair elections,” stated Abudu. “With voting rights under attack across Florida and across the country, this is a rare opportunity to proactively make our democracy stronger. Hillsborough County has a chance to make the tenants of fair elections – the idea that everyone has the right to have their voice heard – into the law.”

The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners is currently made up of four single-member districts and three at-large seats. The ACLU of Florida’s Mid-Florida Regional Office, located in Tampa, has been working with local leaders to build support for increasing the number of single-member districts as the county undertakes its reapportionment process.

“The voices of minority voters are often under-represented in at-large election systems, and Hillsborough County needs a new system that better reflects who we are as a community,” stated ACLU of Florida Mid-Florida Regional Director Joyce Hamilton Henry, who was also present at the meeting. “We applaud the Commissioners for moving in the direction of opening up the process to ensure increased minority representation in our elections, and we hope that they see that the proposals we’ve submitted are the right solution for the voters of our county.”

The Board of County Commissioners could put the issue of expanding the number of single-member districts to the voters of Hillsborough County as soon as 2014.

The recommendations submitted by the ACLU of Florida are available here: