WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today announced a lawsuit filed under the Voting Rights Act against the City of Euclid, Ohio. The lawsuit challenges the City’s method of electing its governing body, alleging it violates the rights of African-American voters to elect candidates of their choice under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, alleges that the at-large/ward method used to elect the Euclid City Council dilutes the voting strength of the city’s African-American voters. Although African-Americans comprise nearly 30 percent of the city’s electorate, and there have been eight recent African-American candidates for the Euclid City Council, not a single African-American candidate has ever been elected to the nine-member City Council, or to any other city office.
“The Voting Rights Act has been instrumental in ensuring the rights of all citizens to elect representatives of their choice,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department believes today's lawsuit is necessary to preserve the voting rights of African-American citizens in the City of Euclid.”
Gregory A. White, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio added, “This office joins the Civil Rights Division in bringing this important civil enforcement action. The lawsuit is necessary to ensure that the votes of African-Americans will not continue to be diluted in City Council elections.”
Today’s lawsuit is the result of an extensive investigation conducted by the Civil Rights Division into the city’s electoral practices and history. The Justice Department has concluded that the voting strength of African American voters has been unlawfully diluted in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department is seeking a change in the method of electing the Euclid City Council and adoption of a plan that would afford the City of Euclid’s African-American voters an equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice as guaranteed under federal law. Because the African-American population is geographically concentrated, African-Americans could constitute a majority in two of eight districts in a redrawn plan.
The United States remains interested in pursuing an amicable settlement. As the City’s next regularly scheduled City Council election is in November 2007, today's filing preserves the ability of a court to hear this case in a timely manner.