Judge rules Ferguson school elections unfair to black voters

By | August 22, 2016

A federal judge on Monday ordered that the Ferguson-Florissant School District in suburban St. Louis change its election process, after finding that the school system illegally undercuts the political power of black residents in the selection of school board members.

The ruling, which bars the district from holding elections until it makes changes to its election process, comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit in December 2014 on behalf of three African-American residents and the Missouri chapter of the NAACP. The lawsuit claimed that the district’s practice of voting for school members at large instead of by subdistricts has diluted African-American voting strength.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel agreed that the current system, which is enshrined in Missouri state law, has diminished African-American representation on the school board and is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The decision by Sippel comes after a six-day bench trial in January and two years after Ferguson, a predominantly African-American suburb of St. Louis, drew global attention following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an African-American teen who was fatally shot after a struggle with a white Ferguson police officer. (USA Today)

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