The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is challenging the election process in a suburb of Birmingham, claiming it has kept blacks from being elected to local office and violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In a recent letter to the city of Pleasant Grove, attorneys with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund urged the city to switch from at-large voting to single-winner districts. Under the at-large method, candidates in local races appear on ballots citywide — not in single districts.
Pleasant Grove’s model might be denying black voters, who account for more than 40 percent of the city’s electorate, the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice and fully participate in the political process, Legal Defense Fund attorneys say. The letter calls the at-large election method a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Pleasant Grove’s City Council is comprised of the mayor and five councilors.
As a result of the at-large method, the city has never elected a black person as mayor or a city councilor. Under the current model, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the citywide vote to win.