Racial bias alleged in N. Carolina county’s election method

By | February 17, 2017

A national civil rights organization sued Monday on behalf of black voters in a rural North Carolina county, alleging how local officials are elected constitutes racial discrimination.

The federal lawsuit, one of many filed recently by North Carolina black voters or their allies alleging Voting Rights Act violations, seeks to eliminate the method by which the five commissioners are elected in Jones County, 100 miles southeast of Raleigh.

A federal appeals court struck down a 2013 law approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, requiring photo identification to vote, reducing the number of early voting days and eliminating same-day registration during early voting. A trial judge is now weighing whether Greensboro council districts were redrawn improperly by state lawmakers for racial and political reasons.

Boards and officials in Jones County, with a population of 10,000, are defendants in Monday’s lawsuit.

Nearly one-third of county residents are African American. They constitute a cohesive voting bloc, but a black candidate hasn’t been elected to the county commission since 1994, and the at-large election method is to blame, according to the lawsuit filed for four voters in part by the Washington-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. (McClatchy)

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