The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that the redistricting of the Sumter County, Georgia, School Board election six years ago violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The redistricting eliminated two board member seats and made two seats to be voted in at-large.
The court found that the redistricting and changes violated section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by diluting the Black vote:
The long and short of it is that the district court, after reviewing an extensive evidential foundation, concluded that H.B. 836’s district map impermissibly diluted black voting strength in violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights of 1965. It then conducted remedial proceedings and, with the help of a well-qualified special master, drew new district boundaries that plainly remedied the violation. On this record, we can find no clear error.
In determining vote dilution, the court found “that the [Black population] group is ‘sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district;’ (2) that the minority group is ‘politically cohesive;’ and (3) that sufficient racial bloc voting exists such that the white majority usually defeats the minority’s preferred candidate.”
The Sumter County School Board has yet to indicate whether it will appeal.