Monroe County received the preliminary 2020 U.S. Census Bureau population count for Monroe County. The 2020 Census data puts Monroe County's population at 82,847 as of April 1, 2020 – an increase of 9,757 more people than were reported in the 2010 census. The County expects to receive more detailed breakdowns of the data from the Census by Sept. 30.
Monroe County Attorney Bob Shillinger presented what the new data could mean for Monroe County at last Wednesday's regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting. The Florida Constitution requires the 67 counties to redistrict county commission districts after each decennial census. Florida law requires that counties complete this constitutional mandate in odd-numbered years.
With a population of 82,847, Monroe County's five commission districts should average 16,569 people per district. If the data is received as expected on Sept. 30, County staff will prepare preliminary maps to present at the Oct. 20 regular BOCC meeting. The BOCC will take public comment then and may direct staff to make revisions. Once the maps are finalized, the BOCC will hold a public hearing to consider the maps before the end of 2021.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that "local legislative districts, jurisdictions are permitted to deviate somewhat from perfect population equality to accommodate traditional districting objectives, among them, preserving the integrity of political subdivisions, maintaining communities of interest, and creating geographic compactness." The Court continued, "the maximum population deviation between the largest and smallest district is less than 10 percent, a local legislative map presumptively complies with the one-person, one-vote rule but maximum deviations above 10 percent are presumptively impermissible."
If redistricting cannot be completed in 3 months, the BOCC could defer final action until 2023 or possibly be finished early in 2022, if done in time not to disrupt the 2022 election cycle. Qualifying for county commission races is scheduled for June 2022, though candidates must acquire signatures on petitions before qualifying. Usually, the Census data is available in the spring, but COVID-19 prevented timely collection and distribution of Census data to all states, counties, and municipalities in the United States.
In 2011, the 2010 Census data showed a difference of more than 2,000 people in two of the five districts. Redistricting brought all of the five of Monroe County's districts to a difference of 470 people or less. The Monroe County School Board and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control also use the County's districting breakdowns.
The Current District Breakdown: