ORLANDO, Florida – A Latino civil-rights group is suing the authorities of Central Florida’s Orange County for discrimination against the Hispanic community by imposing a new electoral map on the region.
The suit was filed Thursday by Latino Justice PRLDEF in representation of a group of Puerto Rican residents who say that the new electoral map eliminates the possibility of a Hispanic being elected to the county commission in the November elections.
The plaintiffs demand the annulment of the plan approved last November by the Orange County Commission and that the federal judge block any elections from being held and supervised using the new map.
“Latinos represent a significant portion of the growth of this county and we’re just asking for our fair share,” plaintiff Zoraida Rios-Andino said.
“We have been part of this community for many, many years and have worked very hard to make it a good place to live, work and raise our children. We’re just asking for fairness,” the veteran community activist said.
The plaintiffs point out that the proportion of Latinos in Orange County increased from 18.8 percent in 2000 to 26.9 percent in 2010, according to Census data.
“In November, the commission adopted a redistricting plan that included a district, District 3, which had a Latino population of 45 percent. Several community redistricting plans were submitted that include at least one district with over 51 percent Latinos,” Latino Justice said in a statement.
With the approval of the electoral map, the plaintiffs say, the Hispanic vote is reduced in that sector of east Orange County.
“The court has the power to stop the election if the county insists on using these lines and we have the evidence to prove that these lines do not afford the Latino community an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice,” Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said.
“We know a plan with a Latino-majority district can be created because we worked with several community leaders and groups to produce one,” Cartagena said. EFE