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Fair Districts coalition slaps back: Senate criticism is a smoke screen

A coalition of citizens groups, all proponents of the Fair Districts amendments that set the new redistricting standards in place, took a verbal lashing on the Senate floor today as the Senators overwhelmingly passed their proposals to redistrict the state Senate and congressional maps.

Senators accused the groups -- the League of Women Voters, the National Council of La Raza and Common Cause of Florida -- of misdirected criticisms and for waiting until the last minute to submit a proposed alternative to the Senate map. In a statement, the group lashed back, noting that because their maps threatened incumbents of both parties, no legislators were willing to introduce them as alternatives. Download Fair Districts Coalition statement

"All of the rhetoric about the timing of our groups' submission of maps is simply a smokescreen for the fact that the Senate has now passed maps that do not comply with the applicable laws,'' the statement says.

"The party in power is trying to protect its ability to stay in power,'' said Leon Russell, vice chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, another member of the coalition. "Some districts now contain a higher percentage of minority voters than needed to elect a candidate of their choice. This solidifies and perpetuates control."