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ACLU suing over Crisp Board of Education election system

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed suit against the Crisp County Board of Education and the county election supervisor for for violating Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act by denying Black voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process through its at-large method of electing Board of Education members according to a release issued Wednesday. / Photo: MGN Online

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed suit against the Crisp County Board of Education and the county election supervisor for for violating Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act by denying Black voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process through its at-large method of electing Board of Education members according to a release issued Wednesday.

“Some of the most consequential decisions that affect people’s daily lives are made by local school board members, and all voters should have an equal opportunity to have a voice in that process,” said ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young in the release. “The Board of Education’s at-large voting method puts Black voters at a disadvantage by diluting the power of their vote and discouraging them from running for office. This must change to ensure all voters have an equal opportunity to be represented.”

According to the release, the suit asks the court to strike down the current at-large voting method and prevent the Board from holding future elections until it adopts a redistricting plan that complies with the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, creating six single-member districts, in which each Board member is elected by a single district of Crisp County, will help ensure Black people have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice. Black voters can constitute a majority in one or more of these potential single-member districts.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the at-large voting system has prevented Black voters from being fairly represented on the Board of Education,” said plaintiff Curtis Lucas in the release, who taught in the local public school system for 38 years and lost an election for the Board of Education in 2016. “As a result, Black people make up more than 40 percent of Crisp County’s population, but only 16 percent of the Board of Education. This needs to change.”

“This is about fairness – for students, parents, staff, and everyone who will benefit from a Board of Education that truly represents the population it serves,” said plaintiff Mathew Whitest, M.D. in the release. “Replacing the current at-large system with single-member districts will result in fairer elections and a more effective Board.”


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