TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ( Associated Press) — Voting rights groups sued in Florida on Friday over a congressional map drawn up by Gov. Ron DeSantis and passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, saying it would reduce the state’s representation of blacks and Republicans. will benefit.
Florida lawmakers approved the map on Thursday as part of a controversial three-day special legislative session during which Black and Democratic representatives held a sit-in on the House floor, prayed and sang “We Shall Overcome” in protest.
DeSantis signed the measure into law on Friday.
The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, the Equal Ground Education Fund and others filed suit in a state court in Tallahassee. The case alleges that the new map violates provisions of the Florida Constitution that prevent districts from curtailing the electoral power of minorities and giving one political party an advantage over another.
“The League and the other plaintiffs have chosen not to stand up, while a rogue governor and a complicated state legislature mock Florida’s Constitution and seek to silence the votes and voices of hundreds of thousands of black voters,” said Cecil Schoen. , president League of Women Voters of Florida said in a statement.
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The defendants in the lawsuit are Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. Their offices did not immediately return emails seeking comment.
DeSantis took the unusual step of vetoing a map drawn up by the Legislature earlier this year and approved it by recalling lawmakers to a special session over his own proposal. Democrats say the map strongly supports the GOP and will destroy two districts currently occupied by black members of Congress.
The governor’s office produced a map, which was described as neutral on race and party affiliation, and adhered to both state and federal constitutions. But supporters have also acknowledged that it could lead to legal challenges.
The Florida congressional delegation now has 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats, and the state is set to gain a US House seat based on the results of the 2020 US Census. Many political observers have said that DeSantis’ map could give Republicans a 20-8 advantage, although Florida’s large number of unaffiliated voters could influence the election. Such an advantage would help DeSantis, should he run for and win the White House in 2024.
Of Florida’s 14.3 million registered voters, about 36 percent are Republican and 35 percent Democrat, while the overwhelming majority of the remainder have no party affiliation.
Black Floridians currently serve in five of the state’s 27 districts, representing about 19 percent of the delegation. Four of them are Democrats; One of them is a Republican in a heavily white constituency. Black people represent about 16 percent of Florida’s population.
Previous maps included a long, thin district stretching across northern Florida that would have retained the largely black Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s constituency. DeSantis has set aside that district, saying it violated guidelines for compactness.