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Challengers in Florida gerrymandering case reject map revisions


TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Aug 18 (Reuters) - Plaintiffs in a lawsuit over gerrymandering inFlorida's congressional districts on Monday asked a state judge to reject the Republican-controlled legislature's revised map.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis should also deny the state's claim that special elections cannot be held this year in the redrawn districts, argued a coalition led by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause in court filings.

"The zero sum game is alive and well," the plaintiffs said. "But this court need not and should not allow legislative defendants to play games with Floridians' fundamental rights."

The legislature approved minor changes to seven of Florida's 27 congressional districts last week in a hastily convened special session.

Lewis has scheduled a hearing on Wednesday for arguments on whether to delay the fall elections in the affected congressional districts.

In July Lewis ruled the legislature's 2012 redistricting plan "made a mockery" of anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state's constitution. The judge ordered revised maps and asked state elections supervisors to provide a schedule for a possible special election.

Florida's secretary of state, a Republican, responded that March 2015 was the soonest a special primary election could be held, followed by a general election in May.

Republican legislative leaders have argued that the district changes should be delayed until after the fall elections, with early voting already under way in Florida's Aug. 26 primaries.

The plaintiffs asked Lewis not to postpone congressional elections into 2015, regardless of which map is adopted.