League of Women Voters and Common Cause offer up 3 alternative Florida redistricting maps

Bradenton Herald Staff | Bradenton Herald | 09/15/2015

TALLAHASSEE — The plot keeps thickening Tuesday morning as another round of maps are offered up, bringing the total of options to seven for Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to choose from when he makes a recommendation for Florida's final congressional map.

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause, known as the Coalition plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the GOP-led Legislature, offered three maps as their submission to the court, each with a different set of options.

The first map. CP-1, would modify eight districts — 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 in South Florida — ncluding the Miami districts 26 and 27, now held by U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The plaintiffs had complained that the configuration sought in the House and Senate base map kept the City of Homestead whole as they Florida Supreme Court had ordered, but it did it in a way that moved black communities out of Curbelo's district to make it more favorable for his re-election, a violation of the incumbent protection prohibition in the state constitution.

Their proposal eliminates that change and "results in the same or increased compactness in seven out of eight of the districts, and that has seven fewer city splits than either the House plan (c9071) or the Senate plan (c9062),'' the wrote.

The second and third maps, CP-2 and CP-3 focuses only on CD 26 and 27 but each with a different variation.

The maps were drawn by John O’Neill, a mapping software technician employed by Strategic Telemetry, located in Washington, D.C. "in coordination with, and at the direction of, Fritz S. Wermuth of King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth, P.A., legal counsel for Coalition Plaintiffs."

Providing "additional, albeit limited, direction in the drawing process" were plaintiff's attorneys David B. King, Thomas A. Zehnder, and Vincent Falcone III of King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth, P.A.

Allan J. Lichtman, a professor at American University, "reviewed, assessed, and analyzed the minority districts" in the proposed maps, as did Ellen Freidin, the legal advisor for the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause and Pamela Goodman, president of the league and Peter Butzin, volunteer chairman of Common Cause of Florida.

The Senate was quick to seize on O'Neill and his map-drawing credentials, noting that his firm was retained by the independent commission of Arizona and was accused of drawing the maps in a way that favors Democrats. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the challenge to the Arizona independent commission but a new challenge is pending alleging the redistricting maps were drawn to favor Democrats.

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