News Service of Florida – Jim Turner
Floridians won’t get to cast a ballot for more than one-fourth of the people in charge of making laws and piecing together the state budget over the next two years.
Of the 160 offices that make up the Florida House and Senate, 42 drew only a single candidate who qualified for the Aug. 30 and Nov. 8 general elections. The state Division of Elections officially finalized the list of qualified candidates just minutes before 9 p.m. on Friday.
In 2014, eight Senators —all Republicans — and 37 members of the House — 22 Republicans and 15 Democrats — were elected without opposition.
But this year all 40 Senate seats and 120 House seats were up for grabs, due to the court-ordered adoption of a Senate redistricting plan. The newly-drawn legislative seats were the result of the voter-approved “Fair Districts” constitutional amendments that prohibit lawmakers from crafting districts that favor incumbents or parties.
University of Central Florida political-science professor Aubrey Jewett said the “fair districts” lines have increased the number of competitive districts.