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Jacksonville's new voting districts goes before judge

A hearing is set for Friday morning for a judge to hear arguments on both sides. Opponents are challenging the districts saying it is racial gerrymandering.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Social activist groups are going up against the city of Jacksonville in court. More than a dozen groups are trying to block the new voting districts in from going into effect. 

14 plaintiffs ranging from the ACLU to Jacksonville voters are suing the city over the new voting and school board districts. They call it racial gerrymandering. 

That lawsuit is going to trial in 2023. Ahead of that trial,  a judge will decide whether to immediately put a halt to those districts or let them stay.

The hearing for the injunction is on Friday at 10 a.m. 

“I think what happened was the City Council made what the French call a mental faux pas," activist Ben Frazier said. 

He is the President of the Northside Coalition and his group is one of 14 plaintiffs challenging this map.

“It is easy to interpret the political motivation of the people who created this map. They are plan benefits incumbent politicians and it protects other city council members who want to limit the number of Black voters in their district," Frazier alleges.

I reached out to the City Of Jacksonville and several city council members for comment. I did not hear back

I met with Andrew Pantazi outside City Hall. He’s the editor of The Tributary, a nonprofit news site, and has covered his issue extensively.

“This has been a big issue in Jacksonville since consolidation because we have always had to wrestle with how do we ensure that all voters have an equal right to vote while also making sure that when we design our districts that we are not disenfranchising anyone," Pantazi explained.

He explained that redistricting occurs every 10 years after a the Census is released to adjust for population changes. 

The lawsuit alleges City Council violated the 14th amendment which prohibits the "unnecessary centering of race in redistricting decisions".

These groups named as plaintiffs have been outspoken since the start showing up by the hundreds to the public hearings before this was put into place in March. 

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