January 10, 2012 / 5:41 PM / in 6 years

Factbox: Minority groups challenge election maps

(Reuters) - The battle in Florida over the redrawing of congressional districts after the 2010 census is one of 115 lawsuits filed across the country challenging new boundaries and the methods used to determine them. As is the case in most post-census wrangling, minority advocates and incumbents are behind many of the challenges, in some cases aligned with Democrats and, in others, Republicans. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting fights.


Minority rights groups and individual Democratic lawmakers sued to block new maps drawn up by the Republican-controlled state legislature on grounds that the maps favor Republicans and discriminate against the state’s Hispanic voters. But after a federal court in Texas drew a new map to address those concerns, the state of Texas challenged that court-drawn map. The challenge went before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case argued on Monday. The Texas Democratic Party, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force are defending the court’s map.


Republican lawmakers and Latino voters combined forces in Illinois to block new Democratic-drawn congressional maps, which they say disenfranchise minority groups and Republican voters. The lawsuit accused the new plan of harming Latino voters by placing them into a single congressional district. A three-judge federal court panel dismissed the case on December 7. Even if the map was designed to increase the number of Democratic seats, that doesn’t make the plan illegal, the court ruled.


Nine African-American voters, backed by the Maryland Republican Party, sued the state to block a congressional redistricting map they say split up black neighborhoods to benefit white Democratic candidates. A group formed to promote African-American interests in redistricting assembled the voters who sued. A three-judge federal court panel dismissed the suit on December 23, finding that the challengers failed to meet their burden of proving that the new map discriminates based on race.


Six African-American voters sued South Carolina and Republican lawmakers over new electoral maps for the U.S. House. They accuse the realignment of creating a system of “voting apartheid” that packs black voters into a single congressional district to dilute their electoral strength. Richard Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, represents the minority voters.


Democratic lawmakers and the NAACP have sued North Carolina in Wake County Superior Court over Republican redistricting maps they say illegally pack black voters into a small number of districts and partitions counties to reduce black voting power.


Minority advocates, including the NAACP and Latino-Americans for Social and Economic Development, sued Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, on December 8 over new districts for the state’s House of Representatives. The challengers say the new map, designed by Republican lawmakers, pits minority candidates against each other and could drive 35 percent of minority incumbents out of office across the state.

Reporting by Terry Baynes; Editing by Eric Beech

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