Bloomberg News

Florida Sues U.S. Seeking Approval of New Electoral Maps

March 12, 2012

Florida sued the U.S. Justice Department seeking approval of electoral maps drafted after population growth gave the state two more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Florida, in a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Washington, said the maps drawn by its Republican-controlled Legislature for congressional and state assembly districts don’t diminish the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice, as prohibited by the Voting Rights Act.

“The congressional plan passed the Senate with all three Hispanic senators and three of six black senators voting in favor of the plan, and passed the House with the support of nine Hispanic representatives,” according to the filing by Mike Haridopolos, president of the Florida Senate, and Dean Cannon, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

All states with a history of voting rights violations must obtain pre-clearance from either the Justice Department or the federal court in Washington before they can use new maps. Florida, which has five counties covered by the voting rights law, asked the court to assign the case to a three-judge panel.

Today’s filing seeks a decision before the state’s candidate-qualifying period, which begins June 4. Florida’s primary elections for the state and congressional seats are scheduled for Aug. 14.

Constitutional Authority

Florida said that if the court declines to approve the maps it will seek a ruling that 2006 amendments to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act “impermissibly exceeds Congress’s constitutional authority.”

The redistricting plans covers 120 state districts and 27 congressional seats, according to the lawsuit.

Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the filing.

A three-judge panel in Washington is considering whether redistricting plans for the state of Texas comply with the Voting Rights Act. Texas’s primary elections, which have been delayed twice due to redistricting challenges, is scheduled for May 29.

The case is State of Florida v. U.S., 12-00380, U.S. District Court (1100L), District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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