Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) sent a letter to the Morgan County Commission in Alabama expressing concerns that the county’s at-large method of election for the Morgan County Commission may violate the Voting Rights Act by preventing Black and Latinx voters from effectively participating in the electoral process and denying them the opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. The Alabama NAACP, Decatur-Morgan County NAACP, Decatur City Councilman Billy Jackson, local activist Dr. Samuel King, and civil rights Attorney Jim Blacksher joined with LDF in raising these serious voting concerns.
“The at-large method of election was suspiciously adopted in the 1970s, just as large numbers of Black voters began to register to vote in Morgan County,” said LDF Fried Frank Fellow Zachery Morris. “Worse, the residence districts used in selecting the Commission have not changed since 1959. This means they were drawn before the Voting Rights Act was even passed. The Commission cannot ignore its responsibility to ensure that its method of election and residency districts allow all voters to participate equally.”
In circumstances similar to those in Morgan County, federal courts have repeatedly found that at-large voting systems purposefully dilute minority voting power in violation of the Voting Rights Act. For example, in 2017, LDF won a lawsuit challenging the at-large election system for state judges in Terrebonne Parish, LA. Because the Commission continues to make critical decisions that directly impact these communities, it is essential that Morgan County’s Black and Latinx voters are able to fully participate in the electoral process. Without their representation, the Commission lacks accurate insight on the very residents they are required to represent and protect.
LDF strongly urges the Commission to take immediate action by changing the county’s at-large voting system to single-member districts that comply with the Voting Rights Act. LDF has offered the Commission our help in resolving this issue.
Read our full letter here.