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A trial over Florida's congressional map continues with more witness testimony

Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media

A federal trial over Florida’s congressional map could wrap up early this week after attorneys for civil rights groups and voters suing over North Florida’s districts rested their case on Monday afternoon.

Attorneys for civil rights groups and voters who are suing over North Florida's congressional districts called their final witnesses on Monday in a federal trial that's expected to end early this week.

Redistricting experts, voters and officials involved in the state's 2022 redistricting process were among the witnesses who took the stand during the first few days of the trial, which began last week. Plaintiffs are trying to convince a three-judge panel that the removal of the region's only congressional district where Black voters could elect their candidate of choice was intentionally racially discriminatory.

“The maps are just bad. They’re unconstitutional," Florida House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) told WFSU News in an interview after her testimony on Monday. "I think that legislative leadership knew that."

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a map last year that eliminated the region’s only district from Pensacola to Jacksonville where African American voters could elect their candidate of choice to Congress. That was after he vetoed two maps from the legislature that attempted to preserve Black voting power in the region. DeSantis then called lawmakers into a special session to pass his plan, which eliminated the region's only African American opportunity district. "The legislature basically capitulated to him," Driskell said.

"The governor’s involvement not only deprived the public of the opportunity to have input, it deprived voters, particularly Black voters in North Florida with the opportunity to elect their candidate of their choice."

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Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.