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:
- Tammy Joyner, New law creates Fayette’s new voting system, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Mar. 4, 2016)
- Terrence K. Williamson, Good settlement good for Fayette County, The Citizen (Jan. 26, 2016)
- Tammy Joyner, Fayette’s voting rights feud: A petri dish of social, political change, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Nov. 21, 2015)
- Virgil Fludd, State Representative, District 64, Tyrone, Ga., End the spending, settle the lawsuit, The Citizen (Oct. 27, 2015)
- Michell Eloy, Fayette County, NAACP Enter Mediation In Voting Rights Suit, 90.1 WABE (Oct. 21, 2015)
- Tammy Joyner, Fayette’s voting fight proves costly, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Oct. 20, 2015)
- Fayette Co. bill hits $1 million in election battle, 11alive.con (Aug. 5, 2015)
- Matthew Pearl, Judge rules for district voting in Fayette Co. election, 11alive.com (Aug. 3, 2015)
- Tammy Joyner, Judge calls for district election to fill vacant Fayette seat, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Aug. 3, 2015)
- Tammy Joyner, NAACP goes to court to stop Fayette election process ,The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Jul. 20, 2015)
- Elly Yu, Fayette Residents Continue Fight Against At-Large Voting, 90.1 WABE (Jul. 16, 2015)
- Tammy Joyner, Fayette to use countywide voting to fill district seat, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Jul. 14, 2015)
- Leah Aden, Opinion: Fayette at-large voting discriminates, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Apr. 9, 2015)
- Monroe Roark, Some Residents Urge Fayette to Drop Voting Appeal, TheCitizen.com (Jan. 14, 2015)
- Claude Paquin, Fayette was told about district voting years ago, TheCitizen.com (Jan 13, 2015)
- Ben Nelms, Will Judge Hear Voting Lawsuit?, TheCitizen.com (Dec. 17, 2014)
- Leah Aden, NAACP LDF Goes Back to Court to Defend a Win for Fayette County, Ga.’s Black Voters, The Root (Dec. 3, 2014)
- Jill Howard Church, At Issue: Fayette County debates district vs. at-large voting, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Nov. 15, 2014)
- Ben Nelms, Fayette milestones in Election 2014, TheCitizen.com (Nov. 12, 2014)
- John Munford, It’s final — Federal court enacts district voting, TheCitizen.com (Feb. 19, 2014)
- Tammy Joyner, Fayette, NAACP agree to judge’s voting rights plan, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Feb. 14, 2014)
- Tammy Joyner, NAACP cobble together temporary remedy for 2014 election, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Feb. 7, 2014)
- Federal district court in Georgia rules county’s at-large method of electing members of county commission and school board violates federal Voting Rights Act, National School Boards Association (June 6, 2013)
- Fayette County At-Large Election Process Violates Voting Rights Act, Atlanta BlackStar (May 22, 2013)
- Court strikes down at-large voting in Ga. county, The Associated Press (May 22, 2013)
- Errin Haines, Georgia NAACP: At large elections disenfranchise Blacks, The Final Call (Aug. 22, 2011)
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund Files Voting Rights Act Challenge to Fayette County, Georgia’s At-Large Election Method, The Business Journals (Aug. 10, 2011)