“Fayette County Voters to Have District-Based Voting this September”


Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted a request filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and cooperating Georgia attorney, Neil Bradley, to have district-based voting as the voting method for the upcoming special election for the successor of late Fayette County Commissioner, Pota Coston. The discriminatory method of at-large voting was argued for by the County.

At a hearing on July 30, 2015, Assistant Counsel Leah Aden argued that the County should be prevented from using the at-large method of voting during the upcoming special election because it will impermissibly dilute the voting power of Black voters in Fayette in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary of being signed into law on August 6.

LDF asked the federal court to require the County to conduct the special election using a district-based method of voting that would allow Black voters to have the equal opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice. In November 2014, Ms. Coston was elected as the first-ever Black woman to the County Commission under a district-based method of election ordered by the federal court.

In its decision today, the federal court recognized that Black voters are substantially likely to prevail on their Voting Rights Act claim at trial; Black voters are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction; any such harm outweighs any administrative burdens to the County of conducting the upcoming special election using district-based voting; and the public interest will be advanced by protecting Black voters’ fundamental right to vote through district-based voting.

The court recognized that “[w]here, as here, Plaintiffs have established a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, the Court believes the public interest is best served by ensuring not simply that more voters have a chance to vote but ensuring that all citizens of Fayette County have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.”

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