DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Daytona Beach City Commission’s recently redrawn district map is the target of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, the organization announced Tuesday. The story represents one of the most significant challenges to Volusia County’s electoral infrastructure in the 21st century.
The lawsuit invoked HB 411, the legislation passed in Florida last year that prohibits the drawing of districts which take into consideration the residential addresses of any particular people. According to the ALCU, Daytona Beach’s new districts are favorable to the incumbent city commissioners.
“The Daytona Beach Commission put politicians’ personal interests above the public good, plain and simple,” said ACLU staff attorney Nicholas Warren in the organization’s announcement. “Slicing up neighborhoods to gerrymander an incumbent advantage is illegal. The Commission must be held accountable.”
Beyond the accusations of favoring incumbency, the ACLU also alleges that the Daytona Beach City Commission failed to provide proper notice of the map as described in Florida’s Sunshine Law. Passed in 1967, the Sunshine Law established legal protections that keep government businsess in Florida from carried out away from the public eye.
“Voters should choose the politicians, not the other way around,” said Nicholas Sakhnovsky, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “We’re going to court because Daytona Beach residents deserve fair maps that serve their communities, not chop them up for political gain.”
Sakhnovsky is joined by fellow plaintiffs Alice Sakhnovsky, Devon Morris, James Noce, and Josephine Pope in the case. The City of Daytona Beach as a municipality is named as the defendant.
The actions sought in the lawsuit include barring the city from holding elections in accordance with its current district map, ordering a new redistricting plan, holding special elections in the event the lawsuit isn’t resolved prior to the regular 2024 elections, and covering legal fees for the plaintiffs.