White GOPer: Beat black Democratic congresswoman by packing her district with prisoners

Tell me again how Republican electoral reforms are racially neutral?

From Politico:

In a private gathering during last month’s Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting, state Rep. Janet Adkins told a group of North Florida GOP activists that the key to defeating Corrine Brown, a black Jacksonville Democrat, is boosting the number of black prisoners in her district.

“You draw [Brown’s seat] in such a fashion so perhaps, a majority, or maybe not a majority, but a number of them will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote,” said Adkins, a Nassau County Republican, referring to black residents.

Under the Voting Rights Act, states are obligated to draw districts such that a certain number of them are majority-minority in order to ensure that minority groups have representation in Congress — a fact that was later derided in the meeting as “a monster in our political correctness.” By drawing large numbers of non-white prisoners, who can’t vote, into Brown’s district, it could maintain its majority-minority population with minority-minority eligible voters.

Brown’s district is already one of the most heavily-gerrymandered in the country, running north-south from Jacksonville to Orlando:


However, Florida’s congressional map was recently ruled unconstitutional, forcing the legislature to redraw them. In special redistricting session last month, both houses of Florida’s legislature approved maps that changed the configuration of Brown’s district, making it run east-west — from Jacksonville to Tallahassee — and dropping the district’s black population from 50 percent to 45 percent. The district includes no less than eighteen prisons. While this wasn’t discussed during the legislative session, it was apparently nonetheless intentional.

Here’s the audio, via Politico:

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Before outlining her plan to gerrymander Brown out of a job, Adkins checked to make sure there weren’t any reporters in the room, according to audio obtained by Politico, saying “Let me give you inside ball game. Are there any reporters in here?…Any reporters? OK. So, inside ball game.”

She then asked, rhetorically, “When you look at the east-west…corridor, what’s the primary industry in North Florida? Prisons,” continuing:

Janet Adkins, via Wikimedia Commons

Janet Adkins, via Wikimedia Commons

When you take a look at…how many minorities are in the prisons within that newly-drawn proposed Congressional [District] Five — how many of them live in the prisons — that’s why Corrine Brown is so against having it east-west: Because her concern is that they live in prisons and they can’t vote. So it’s the perfect storm…You’re now reducing the percentage of minorities within that district, and you’ve drawn it in such a fashion that perhaps a majority — or maybe not a majority, but a number of them — will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote…[Baker County Republican committee member] Danny [Norton] you, you can perhaps be the person who will help get rid of Corrine Brown.

When Republicans talk about reforming our electoral system to ensure its “integrity,” remember that this is what they mean. They have very little interest in small-d democratic efficiency; they have every interest in big-R Republican success. Legal election-rigging has become a pillar of mainstream conservative thought; while it’s presented with racially neutral language in public, let’s not pretend we don’t know what they’re talking about in private.

Brown has filed a lawsuit challenging the new district map.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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