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TALLAHASSEE – When 80-year-old Sam Palmer was growing up in Gadsden County, few Black Floridians were eligible to vote — not in those segregation days.

Because of racial violence and restrictive voting laws, there were only seven Black voters in a county of almost 11,000 Black people. Palmer had just turned 18.

Now, as president of the NAACP in the state’s only majority Black county, Palmer fears he’s seeing a form of that history of disenfranchisement threatening to repeat itself.

“What I’m hearing out of Tallahassee is that we can pay taxes, but we won’t have representation,” Palmer said. “The governor wants to turn North Florida Republican red. And if he does, we’re going to be an outcast, again.”

Sam Palmer, a Gadsden County native, is the president of the NAACP in the state’s only majority Black county, Palmer fears he’s seeing a form of that history of disenfranchisement now threatening to repeat itself. Florida lawmakers are set to convene Tuesday at the Capitol to redraw boundaries for the state’s 28 congressional districts after Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a plan approved by the Republican-led Legislature in March.

Florida lawmakers are set to convene Tuesday at the Capitol to redraw boundaries for the state’s 28 congressional districts.  

Gov. Ron DeSantis last month vetoed an earlier redistricting plan approved by the Republican-led Legislature, condemning it as unconstitutional because of what he called racial gerrymandering.

Instead, DeSantis has advanced plans with more districts likely to elect Republicans to Congress from Florida. But he does this by redrawing two of the four districts represented by Black Democrats, reducing their number of minority voters.

The current U.S. House district map includes a seat that has been reliably Democrat in North Florida.

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The targeted districts include the seat held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, which contains Gadsden County, a mostly rural, formerly tobacco-growing region at the Georgia border. With a population of almost 44,000 people, it is 55% Black.



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