The Florida Senate rested its case in support of a proposed map during the second day of a redistricting trial Tuesday, as lawyers for voting-rights organizations prepared to grill the chief map-drawer for the chamber. The main witness Tuesday was University of Utah political-science professor Baodong Liu, who questioned whether plans offered by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida would offer Hispanic and African-American voters a chance to elect candidates of their choice in some districts. That requirement is part of the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” amendments, which voters added to the state Constitution in 2010. An original Senate map, approved by lawmakers in 2012, has been set aside under an agreement between the voting-rights groups and the Legislature that acknowledged it would likely be struck down by the courts.
“They have a problem with the number of black majority districts drawn in the plans,” Liu said of the voting-rights groups’ four proposed maps. “However, if you look at the benchmark plan and the Senate plan proposed by Florida Senate, you see that the number of black majority districts is much better in the Senate plan compared to the alternative plan provided by the plaintiffs.”
Liu also argued that because of voting patterns, Latinos need to comprise as much as 75 to 80 percent of the voting-age population to have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Only one of the districts under the plan favored by the voting-rights groups would meet that standard; the Senate plan has two that would clear that bar, and another where the Hispanic share of the voting-age population is 74.9 percent.
Full Article: Senate rests case in redistricting trial | StAugustine.com.