By Lydia Nusbaum
April 21, 2022 Updated 1:45 P.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – The Florida legislature approved the new congressional map that Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed which could give Republicans more seats. The Florida House of Representatives approved the map 68 to 38 Thursday afternoon, sending it to the Governor’s desk.
Lawmakers made the vote amid screams from Democrats who stopped debate and staged a sit-in an hour prior to protest the congressional map.
The map eliminates two districts, District 5 and District 10, that are drawn in favor of a minority black population to elect a Democrat in their respective districts.
Earlier this year, DeSantis vetoed a map that the Republican-controlled Florida legislature originally passed. He called the legislature’s map “unlawful” and had a new map drawn up to be considered during the Special Session. He said District 5 was drawn to favor black representation, despite it not being a black-majority district.
The new congressional map gives Republicans 20 supportive districts. The current congressional delegation is made up of 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats.
“Our process was thorough. It was transparent. It was open. It was constitutional,” said Republican state Rep. Kaylee Tuck. “This map is all of those things.”
Republicans said the new map is constitutional and avoids racial gerrymandering while Democrats claim it disenfranchises black voters and violates the Fair Districts amendment Florida voters passed in 2010.
“This map cuts minority districts in this state in half. You don’t want to be a part of that,” said Democrat state Rep. Joseph Geller. “You need to vote it down.”
The Florida Senate approved the Governor’s proposed congressional map 24 to 15 Wednesday morning.
Alex Kelly is the Governor’s executive chief of staff and presented the maps to House and Senate committee members Tuesday. Kelly said District 10 in Orange County does not have a significant amount of minorities to elect a candidate of their choice. That district is 26% black.
“The minority community does not on its own have enough strength to elect a candidate of its choice,” Kelly said in committee.
Kelly continued to say that District 5 contains racial gerrymandering and violates the U.S. Constitution. That district spans 200 miles from Jacksonville past Tallahassee.
But Democrats claim District 5 currently is a ‘minority’ protected district under the Voting Rights Act. Alfred Lawson (D) represents the district in Congress. However, FL-5 is currently 46.5% black.
Democrats claim the Governor is trying to strip away minority representation despite minorities not meeting a 50% threshold in those districts.
“It is disgraceful that this legislative body would be willing to sacrifice black representation at the altar of this Governor’s political ambitions,” said Democrat State Representative Dotie Joseph.
There is minority representation in Congress for Florida – Republican U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds represents District 19 and is black. This district is 68% white and 7% black. It is also overwhelmingly Republican.
Critics of the Democrat stance on redistricting also point to the lack of focus on Hispanic representation. Census data shows Hispanics make up 26.4% of Florida’s population while the African American population makes up 16.9%.
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