ATLANTA – Over the weekend, a federal district court in Albany ruled in favor of the ACLU and ruled against the Sumter County Board of Elections and Registration because it failed to draw fair school board district lines that comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Court ruling stated that the May 22, 2018, “school-board election has been cancelled.”
Last month, the federal court agreed with the ACLU Voting Rights Project, the Law Office of Bryan L. Sells, and the ACLU of Georgia that the Sumter County Board of Elections and Registration’s current school board district lines are unfair to African-Americans, who are 54% of the county’s population. The Court ordered Sumter County to draw fair district lines “to give African Americans a more proportional representation on the Board of Education than does the current plan.”
The Court also found that “based on the totality of the circumstances, that the at-large districts of the Sumter County Board of Education dilute African-American voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” However, Sumter County has yet to comply with the Court’s order.
“We are pleased that the court is protecting the sacred, constitutional right to vote,” stated Laughlin McDonald, Director Emeritus of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. "Taxpayers expect the Sumter County Board of Education to do the right thing rather than waste their precious taxpayer dollars on costly litigation to defend an unfair and discriminatory elections system.”
Because the state legislature’s regular session for 2018 concluded without redrawing a replacement map, “[t]he Court will enter an order no later than July 23, 2018 setting interim boundaries for the new Sumter County Board of Education districts.” The Court reset the board of education elections for November 6, 2018.