On August 8, 2016, the Lawyers’ Committee, along with the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell and Moring LLP and Atlanta-based attorney Brian J. Sutherland, Esq. of Buckley Beal, LLP, acting as pro bono counsel, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP (GA NAACP), Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and seven Gwinnett County, Georgia-registered voters. The complaint alleges that the district boundaries for the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners and the Gwinnett County Board of Education violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).
The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that the current district maps for the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education violate Section 2 of the VRA by diluting the voting strength of minority voters. The suit alleges that these maps, coupled with a pattern of racially polarized voting, have deprived African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Together, African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters comprise approximately 43% of the voting age population of Gwinnett County.
The current Board of Education district map assigns approximately 74.4% of the African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters to District 5 and splits the balance of the minority population across the other four districts where African Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans do not constitute a majority of the population. The complaint alleges that the Board of Education districts should be re-drawn to include a second majority-minority district so that minority voters have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the Gwinnett County Board of Education.
Similarly, the current Board of Commissioners’ districting plan unnecessarily divides African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters among four single-member districts, preventing them from combining to form a majority in any district. The complaint alleges that two majority-minority Board of Commissioners districts should be drawn to give African-American, Latino and Asian-American the ability to elect candidates of their choice.