The United States Department of Justice Department of Justice SealF The United States Department of Justice
Search The Site
 

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO

                                                                                       
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,                       
                                                                                       
       Plaintiff,                                                                  
                                                                                       
          v.                                                                                      CIVIL ACTION No. 01-B-2275
                                                                                       
ALAMOSA COUNTY, COLORADO;                           
ALAMOSA COUNTY BOARD OF                               
COMMISSIONERS;                                                       
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DARIUS ALLEN,                 
and CHARLOTTE BOBICKI,                                         
Members of the                                                                
Alamosa County Board of                                                
Commissioners; and                                                         
HOLLY Z. LOWDER, County Clerk                                
and Recorder,                                                                   
                                                                                         
       Defendants.                                                                
                                                                                         

COMPLAINT

The United States of America, plaintiff herein, alleges:

1.   The Attorney General files this action pursuant to Sections 2 and 12(d) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1973 and 42 U.S.C. 1973j(d).

2.  The Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1345 and 42 U.S.C. 1973j(f).

3.  Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1973, prohibits the enforcement of any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or any standard, practice or procedure that results in the denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

4.  Defendant Alamosa County is a political and geographical subdivision of the State of Colorado.

5.  Defendant Alamosa County Board of Commissioners is the body established under the laws of the State of Colorado that is responsible for governing and administering Alamosa County.

6.  Defendants Robert Zimmerman, Darius Allen, and Charlotte Bobicki are members of the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners. Each defendant is a resident of Alamosa County and is sued in his or her official capacity.

7.  Defendant Holly Z. Lowder serves as County Clerk and Recorder for Alamosa County. As County Clerk and Recorder, defendant Holly Z. Lowder is responsible for exercising certain powers and duties associated with the conduct of primary and general elections in Alamosa County, including elections for the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners. She is a resident of Alamosa County and is sued in her official capacity.

8.  According to the 2000 Census, the total population of Alamosa County is 14,966, of whom 6,197 (41.4 percent) are Hispanic.

9.  According to the 2000 Census, the voting age population of Alamosa County is 10,898 of whom 4,102 (37.6 percent) are Hispanic.

10.  The current method of election for the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners has been in place since 1913. The Alamosa County Board of Commissioners is composed of three members who qualify to run from one of three residency districts but are elected at-large by all the voters in the county. The members of the board serve four-year, staggered terms. In elections for the Board of Commissioners, a partisan primary is held to determine which candidates qualify for the general election. In the primary elections, the top finisher for each residency position advances to the general election. In the general election the top finishers are elected to the Board of Commissioners.

11.  The Hispanic population of Alamosa County is sufficiently numerous and geographically compact that a properly apportioned single-member district plan for electing the defendant Board of Commissioners can be drawn in which Hispanic voters would constitute an effective majority in one district out of three.

12.  Hispanic voters in Alamosa County are politically cohesive. Racially polarized voting patterns prevail in elections in the county, including elections for the county commission. In contests between Hispanic and white candidates, Hispanics usually vote for Hispanic candidates and whites vote sufficiently as a bloc to usually defeat the Hispanic voters' candidates of choice.

13.  The only two Hispanic candidates to have served on the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners in the county's history were elected in 1984. Prior to and since 1984, no Hispanic candidate has been successful in obtaining a seat on the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners or any other county office elected at-large.

14.  Hispanic persons in Alamosa County have suffered from a history of official discrimination and continue to bear the effects of past discrimination in voting and other areas such as education, employment, and health, which hinder their ability to participate in the electoral process on an equal basis with whites. This is reflected by Hispanic residents' depressed socioeconomic status relative to white Alamosa County residents.

15.  The use of residency districts and staggered terms, in conjunction with the at-large method of electing the members of the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners, enhances the opportunity for discrimination against Hispanic voters in Alamosa County.

16.  The current at-large method of electing the members of the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because it results in Hispanic citizens of the county having less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.

17.  Unless enjoined by order of this Court, defendants will continue to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by administering, implementing, and conducting future elections for the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners pursuant to the current at-large method of electing county commissioners.

WHEREFORE, the United States of America prays that this Court enter an order:

(1)   declaring that the current at-large method of electing members of the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act;

(2)   enjoining the defendants, their agents and successors in office, and all persons acting in concert with any of them, from administering, implementing, or conducting any future elections for the Alamosa County Board of Commissioners under the current at-large method of electing county commissioners;

(3)   ordering the defendants to devise an election plan, and implementation schedule therefor, that remedies the Section 2 violation. If the defendants should fail to devise such a plan, the Court should order into effect a new election plan of its own design to remedy the Section 2 violation, and order elections to be held pursuant to that plan as promptly as possible.

Plaintiff further prays that this Court order such additional relief as the interests of justice may require, together with the costs and disbursements in maintaining this action.



                                                       JOHN D. ASHCROFT
                                                       Attorney General

                                                       _____/s/______________
                                                        RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
                                                        Assistant Attorney General
                                                        Civil Rights Division

                                                       _____/s/______________
                                                        JOSEPH D. RICH
                                                       Chief, Voting Section

                                                       _____/s/______________
                                                        REBECCA J. WERTZ
                                                        THOMAS A. REED
                                                        TRICIA G. JEFFERSON
                                                        Attorneys, Voting Section
                                                        Civil Rights Division
                                                        Department of Justice
                                                        P.O. Box 66128
                                                        Washington, D.C. 20035-6128
                                                        (202) 514-5682



Plaintiff further prays that this Court order such additional relief as the interests of justice may require, together with the costs and disbursements in maintaining this action.

                                                       JOHN D. ASHCROFT
                                                       Attorney General

                                                       _____/s/______________
                                                        RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
                                                        Assistant Attorney General
                                                        Civil Rights Division

                                                       _____/s/______________
                                                        JOSEPH D. RICH
                                                       Chief, Voting Section

                                                       _____/s/______________
                                                        REBECCA J. WERTZ
                                                        THOMAS A. REED
                                                        TRICIA G. JEFFERSON
                                                        Attorneys, Voting Section
                                                        Civil Rights Division
                                                        Department of Justice
                                                        P.O. Box 66128
                                                        Washington, D.C. 20035-6128
                                                        (202) 514-5682

General Information Voting Section
Contact

Toll-free - (800) 253-3931
Telephone - (202) 307-2767
Fax - (202) 307-3961
Email - voting.section@usdoj.gov Complaint form
Mailing Contact

Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Room 7254 - NWB
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Redistricting Census Information
Stay Connected YouTube MySpace Twitter Facebook Sign Up for E-Mail Updates Subscribe to News Feeds