A coalition of voting-rights organizations has withdrawn two state Senate redistricting proposals it had submitted to a Leon County judge, virtually ensuring that at least one district will cross Tampa Bay when the legal fight ends. The coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida, announced the move one day before the groups and the Legislature are set to file briefs with Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds objecting to each other’s maps. The state Senate has submitted a single map that would cross the bay. Reynolds is supposed to recommend one of the plans to the Florida Supreme Court as the best way to follow the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010, after the Legislature agreed in a legal settlement that the current map would be found in violation of those rules.
Supporters of crafting a district that crosses the bay say it is the only way to give African-American voters a chance to elect a candidate of their choice to the seat. Opponents say it is an attempt to pack as many black voters as possible into the district and make surrounding seats more favorable to Republicans.
In its filing Tuesday, the groups said the district, which would have been entirely within Hillsborough County, was drawn with those criticisms in mind.
“However, although there is a likelihood that the Hillsborough-only district would retain African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of choice, Plaintiffs will rely only on their alternative version of District 19 that crosses Tampa Bay … in order to narrow the issues for trial and ensure that African Americans retain their ability to elect candidates of choice,” the filing says.
Full Article: 2 redistricting proposals pulled.