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LA lawmakers say new map based on race

March 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM

LOS ANGELES, March 16 (UPI) -- Two African-American Los Angeles councilmen said Friday the new City Council district map was drawn along racial lines, violating the Voting Rights Act.

Jan Perry and Bernard C. Parks challenged the reconfiguration approved Friday by the 21-member redistricting commission, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The two council members contend the commission violated the federal Voting Rights Act by failing to show discriminatory voting patterns that would justify five proposed districts with high concentrations of Latino voters as well as two heavily black districts.

"The notion that ... the Voting Rights Act requires the Balkanization of voters into districts based upon race in Los Angeles is meritless and unbecoming of our city," attorney Nathan Lowenstein, who represents both council members, wrote in a letter to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

William Carter, Trutanich chief deputy, said race can be a factor in redistricting as long as it is not the deciding factor.

Carter said the redistricting commission tried to ensure that districts are geographically compact and that neighborhoods are not split between two districts.

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