The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into an agreement to settle a voting rights lawsuit with the City of Eastpointe, Michigan. The Department’s lawsuit challenges the method of electing the city council in Eastpointe under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Under this agreement, the city will change its method of electing its city council to ensure compliance with the protections of Section 2.
The agreement, which must be approved by the federal district court in Detroit, was entered into by the parties to resolve the Department’s lawsuit with the City of Eastpointe filed in 2017. The Department’s complaint alleges the current method of election for the Eastpointe City Council results in black citizens in Eastpointe having less opportunity than white citizens to participate in the political process and to elect candidates of their choice to the city council, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Subject to court approval, the agreement will alter the method of electing the Eastpointe City Council, from a traditional at-large method of election to one that utilizes ranked choice voting beginning with the November 2019 election. Under the agreement, the city councilmembers will continue to be elected on a citywide basis, but under the new ranked choice voting system, Eastpointe voters will rank city council candidates in their order of preference. The agreement provides that the city will conduct a robust voter education program for the new method of election.