ATLANTA – Today, a federal district court in Albany ordered the Sumter County Board of Elections and Registration to adopt court-drawn maps for county school board elections, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. In addition, the court required the county to move its school board elections from May back to November to ensure increased voter participation, including from the Black community. This lawsuit was brought on behalf of Reverend Mathis Wright, Jr. by the ACLU Voting Rights Project, the Law Office of Bryan L. Sells, and the ACLU of Georgia.
In 2010, Black-preferred candidates were elected to the Sumter County School Board, resulting in a majority-Black board for the first time in history. However, one month after the election – and before the new candidates could take office – the board voted to change the district lines, add two new at-large districts, and move the elections from November to May.
These discriminatory changes would all but prevent the board from being majority Black in the future. In 2014, Reverend Wright, filed this lawsuit against the county, challenging these changes as discriminatory and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“Sumter County, the hometown of President Jimmy Carter, has had a long and sordid history of racial discrimination,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “We are pleased that the court has enforced the Voting Rights Act today. Now the Black voters of Sumter County have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.”