Widely considered the crown jewel of American democracy, the Voting Rights Act is the most effective tool for protecting voters of color against voting methods that weaken their voting strength. As a remedy, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act provides for the creation of single-member districts to replace an at-large method of election.
Just days after the 46th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) filed on August 9, 2011 a federal lawsuit, alleging that Fayette County, Georgia’s at-large method of electing members for the County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education violates the Act.
LDF filed the case on behalf of the Georgia State Conference NAACP, Fayette County NAACP, and Black voters of Fayette County.
Although Black residents comprise twenty percent of Fayette County, are geographically concentrated in the northeastern part of the County, and consistently vote together for Board of Commissioners and Board of Education candidates, no Black candidate has ever been elected to either of these boards. At-large voting, in combination with racially polarized voting, guarantees this result.
Through this litigation, Plaintiffs seek to create five equally-populated election districts in Fayette County, each of which would elect one candidate to each board. By replacing at-large voting with district voting, Black residents would constitute the majority of the voting age population in one district, and would finally be able to elect candidates of their choice to each board.
On summary judgment, a federal court found in May 2013 that under the totality of the circumstances, "Fayette County's Black electorate has less opportunity than the white electorate to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice." As a remedy, in February 2014, the federal court ordered district voting in Fayette County. Historic elections pursuant to the remedial district voting plan will be held in 2014 and beyond.
Read a sampling of coverage of this historic voting rights case including: