TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida lawmakers broke the law and now November's elections are up in the air, as a judge decides if the state can hold an election with unconstitutional congressional maps.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Christopher Heath was in a Tallahassee courtroom Thursday as lawyers argued about what can be done with just over three months left before the elections.
The judge says he's "extremely skeptical" about changing the state's congressional districts before the 2014 elections.
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis held
the three-hour hearing Thursday to consider what to do after he ruled that current districts are illegal because they were drawn to benefit the Republican Party.
Lewis said he will try to have a final ruling by the end of next week. But he signaled he is unlikely to go along with the groups that sued the Florida Legislature.
The coalition suing the Legislature wants the districts changed now. They argued Lewis has the authority to postpone the Aug. 26 primary so that the changes can be made.
But attorneys for the Florida Legislature dispute that. State officials said it would create problems to move election dates.
"They created the problem and they need to fix it," said Orlando attorney David King.
King is representing voter groups in the case.
He points to the district of Democrat Corrine Brown, which snakes its way from Jacksonville to Orlando, and is overloaded with Democrats. And he points out the district of Republican Daniel Webster, a district with an excess of Republican voters, as examples of why the maps should not be used in November.
"I just think it's so important that we fix this problem," said King.
"Is there time to get this done before November?" Heath asked King.
"Quite frankly, there isn't," King replied.
Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said redrawing only two districts would be impossible.
Simply moving a line means other districts would be impacted, and with military ballots already sent, there just isn't time between now and November.
"Changing this process
in the middle of the election is impossible," said Holland.