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Defense Argues For Majority Minority Districts In Redistricting Trial

Florida's Congressional District 5

After eight days of arguments, the Florida redistricting trial continued Friday with the Legislature's lawyers beginning their defense.

Former University of South Florida Professor Darryl Paulson took the stand as an expert witness, testifying that African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities have faced barriers in the political process for years, and the drawing of majority minority congressional districts gives them fair representation.

"It's very easy to draw a compact district. It's much more difficult to draw a compact district that's going to provide protection for minorities," Paulson said. "And it's going to be much more difficult to draw compact districts where a black candidate running for the first time is going to be able to be competitive given Florida's long history of racial discrimination against black and minority voters."

Seminole County NAACP President Turner Clayton also took the stand for the defense, testifying that districts should be drawn without partisanship but in a way that gives minorities a fair chance at electing a representative of their choice.

But voting rights groups challenging the maps say too many minorities were packed into certain districts as an effort to take those presumably Democratic votes out of surrounding districts to make them more safely Republican.