TALLAHASSEE: Florida House and Senate committees give early approval to fixes to congressional map - Legislature - MiamiHerald.com
The Legislature’s fix drew criticism from the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida, which successfully sued to get the congressional map overturned. They warned that the repairs don’t go far enough to satisfy the court’s concerns and urged them to consider their proposed alternative.
“Map 9057 continues to use a minority-marginalizing relic of an era in which political gerrymandering was acceptable — now it is not,” the groups wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders.
District 5 “packs an excessive number of African Americans into a district marked by hooks, tentacles and appendages as it snakes through and splits every county from Jacksonville down to Orlando. By packing minorities into such a north-south district, CD 5 in Map 9057 destroys the ability to create an additional district with significant minority voting strength in Central Florida.”
They offered an alternative map that creates a minority district along the east-west corridor of the top of the state and which, they said, will create the opportunity for two blacks to be elected to Congress from north and central Florida instead of one.
The debate continued to strain traditional Democratic alliances. NAACP leaders, who rejected the League’s alternative map, told the Senate Reapportionment Committee that they want to see District 5 preserved.
Whitfield Jenkins, the former president of the Marion County NAACP, said District 5 secures the ability for African-Americans to get elected.
Beverlye Colson Neal, former executive director of the NAACP Florida Conference, said reducing the number of black voters would disenfranchise the same voters. “These voters will be placed in districts where they are outnumbered by whites,” she told the committee. “African Americans are a fragile community and the least bit of disenfranchisement will keep them away from the polls.”