This story discusses a racial gerrymandering suit that Harvard Law School’s Election Law Clinic has filed, together with the ACLU of Florida and the Southern Poverty Law Center, against several Jacksonville City Council districts. Of note to ELB readers, the suit relies in part on redistricting simulations to show that certain districts were drawn for racial reasons, and the suit challenges both “packed” districts and “stripped” districts with artificially lower Black populations.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers argue the Jacksonville City Council intentionally packed Black voters into Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10, which made Districts 2, 12 and 14 have more white voters than they would have otherwise. . . .
The portion of Jacksonville north and west of the St. Johns River is 49% Black. The packed districts in that area have Black populations that range from 61% to 70% Black. The other three districts range from 21% to 33% Black. . . .
The motion relied on reports by University of Florida professor Sharon Austin and Harvard University professor Kosuke Imai. Imai analyzed 10,000 simulations that used the city’s professed criteria as evidence of the racial gerrymandering, showing that the seven contested districts had far more or far fewer Black residents than expected.
This, he said, “shows that race played a significant role beyond the purpose of adhering to the traditional and other redistricting criteria. … The enacted plan dilutes the voting power of Black voters who live in the southwestern parts of Jacksonville and splits the community of Black voters located in the middle of the city.”