• Battle continues over Florida congressional district maps


    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - As lawmakers draw new lines for congressional districts, big changes for voters in Lake, Seminole and Orange counties loom.
    A judge ruled the current map unconstitutional and tossed it out, forcing the Florida Legislature into a special session.
    Channel 9's Christopher Heath said the redistricting fight is breaking along political and racial lines.
    It all comes down to what are known as minority opportunity districts.
    The League of Women Voters has argued that the current layout packs African-Americans into one, single district when there is a chance to create two separate districts. But that plan wasn't heard by legislators Friday.
    It's known as stacking and cracking -- lumping huge groups of voters into one district and then splitting other groups in half to dilute their power.
    That is exactly what some have said Republicans did when they created U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's Jacksonville-to-Orlando district. Brown is a Democrat.
    "This last map was illegal, and it packed African-American voters to try to bleach all the districts around it to be Republican," said Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Orange County.
    But Republicans are still in control of the process, and Friday, along a party-line vote, pushed forward a new map that removes Sanford from Brown's district and northwest Orange County from U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, a Republican.
    "You got to look at what the intent of the district was meant to do," said Beverlye Colson Neal, with the Orange County NAACP.
    Neal said her group is opposed to any major changes to Brown's district and its boundaries that encompass traditional black neighborhoods, saying the communities need a representative that reflects their interests.
    "White people have always had the privileges,; we've had to fight," said Neal.
    Orange County continues to be split between five congressional districts in the new map.
    As for voting blocs, not much changes. Each district in question still leans either Republican or Democratic, just slightly less so in the new map.

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    Battle continues over Florida congressional district maps