This morning, Patterson Harkavy filed a federal voting-rights lawsuit against Jones County, North Carolina, along with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
Jones County utilizes an “at-large” system for electing Commissioners, meaning that all Commissioners are elected county-wide. The Complaint alleges that voting in Jones County is racially polarized and white voters typically vote against candidates supported by the African American community. As a result, despite comprising nearly a third of the voting-age population, the African American community has not been able to elect a candidate of their choice to the Board of Commissioners since 1994. This has lead to a systematic neglect of the needs of African Americans in the county.
The lawsuit seeks to change the election scheme from an at-large system to a single-member voting district system which would include one majority-African American district. This would give African American voters a fair opportunity to elect a member to the Board of Commissioners and to have a voice in their community.