From today’s The Guardian:
Florida Republicans approved a new congressional map that severely curtails Black voting power in the state on Thursday, taking a final vote as Black lawmakers staged a sit-in on the floor of the legislature.
The new plan, which was drawn by Governor Ron DeSantis, gives Republicans a significant boost in the state and is one of the most aggressively gerrymandered maps passed in recent months. Republicans would be expected to win 20 of the state’s 28 congressional districts, a four seat increase from the 16 they hold now. It also eliminates two of four districts where Black voters have been able to elect the candidate of their choice.
DeSantis is expected to sign the districts into law, and lawsuits challenging the maps are immediately expected.
“We are plainly in this map denying minority voters the ability to elect the representative of their choice,” said state representative Fentrice Driskell, a Democrat who represents the Tampa area.
Black Democratic lawmakers halted the final debate of the bill Thursday morning just before noon. They took over the floor of the legislature, leading prayer and chants. One member, state representative Dianne Hart, was seen wiping tears from her eyes during the protest, according to the Miami Herald.
The Sergeant at Arms removed an Associated Press photographer from the floor of the legislature while the demonstration was ongoing, the Miami Herald reported. The legislature reconvened and held a final vote on the maps while the protest was continuing, according to The Tributary.
A focal point of the new maps has been the way it eliminates the fifth congressional district, which stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. 46% of that district is currently Black, and it is represented by Al Lawson, a Black Democrat. DeSantis has openly called for getting rid of the district, saying it is unusually shaped and was unlawfully drawn based on race. After vetoing a proposal that would have allowed Black voters in Jacksonville to continue to elect the candidate of their choice, DeSantis’s map breaks up the district into four pieces in which Black voters comprise a much smaller share of the population.
Read the complete story here.