Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) sent a letter to Madison County Commission Chairman Dale W. Strong expressing concerns about the system used to elect the Commission’s seven members, which limits the ability of Black voters to elect candidates of their choice and participate equally in the electoral process. The Alabama NAACP, Huntsville/Madison County NAACP, and voting rights attorney Ed Still joined with LDF in warning that the current system may violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
“The at-large method of electing the chairperson and the Commission’s decision to pack Black voters into a single district minimizes Black voters’ voice on the Madison County Commission,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Deuel Ross. “Madison County has a history of racial discrimination and has failed to take responsibility for it. Black residents make up one-fourth of Madison County’s voting age population, but are only a majority in one of seven seats. This is a clear sign of vote dilution.”
Black citizens of Madison County are in dire need of representation. The Black median family income per year is nearly half that of white families, and twenty-two percent of Black families lived below the poverty line compared to only five percent of white families. In addition, since the 1960s, the Madison County has been subject to a school desegregation order. The Commission was actively involved in important decisions impacting the desegregation order, including the siting of a new school, as recently as 2018.
LDF strongly urges the Commission to take immediate action to change the county’s electoral system in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. We have offered the Commission our help in resolving this issue.
Read our full letter here.