Republican Florida state Rep. Janet Adkins was recently caught on tape explaining her plan to defeat state Rep. Corrine Brown, a black Democrat, by redrawing the district lines to include African-American inmates who cannot vote.
Brown sued the state earlier this year after Republican lawmakers proposed adding about 7,000 inmates to Congressional District 5. Prison populations in Florida include a much higher percentage of minorities compared to the general population.
According to Brown, lawmakers were making it more difficult for black candidates to get elected by making it appear that the black voting population had increased when it had actually decreased because inmates could not vote.
In a private meeting with supporters last month, Adkins admitted that the strategy was the key to defeating Brown, Politico reported on Wednesday.
“You take a look at when you’re drawing these minority access districts, one of the questions that’s been asked is what’s the right percentage of minorities?” she said after making sure no reporters were in the room. “When you look at drawing that east-west corridor, what’s the primary industry in North Florida? Prisons.”
“The Supreme Court has required that we reduce and avoid packing minorities within congressional districts,” Adkins continued. “So now we’ve going from 60 percent — whatever it was — now, to 45 percent — whatever the new number is, but we’ve reduced it. We do not take in consideration where those people live. It would not be constitutional to take into consideration where they live. But what we anticipate, what the Democrats were arguing on the House floor is we should be taking out when you live in prisons and we should not be including them and drawing them into the district.”
“Can they vote?” a supporter asked.
“No!” Adkins replied. “You take a look at how many minorities are in the prisons within that newly drawn, proposed Congressional line, how many of them live within the prisons? That’s why Corrine Brown is so against having an east-west [district]. Because they live in prisons and they can’t vote. It’s the perfect storm.”
Adkins noted that redrawing the lines would mean a large number of minorities “will live within the prisons thereby not being able to vote.”
The Republican lawmaker predicted that Brown’s lawsuit would be “on ice” until after the elections because the longtime Democratic representative could not show damages unless she lost.
Listen to the audio below.