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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
EASTERN DIVISION


THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

                      v.                                             CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:08-cv-02832-KMO

EUCLID CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
BOARD OF EDUCATION and
CUYAHOGA COUNY BOARD OF
ELECTIONS,

           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).

JURISDICTION

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

PARTIES

        3.   Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education is the body established under the laws of the State of Ohio that is responsible for the governance and administration of the Euclid City School District, which is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio.

        4.   Defendant Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is responsible for exercising certain powers and duties associated with the conduct of elections in the city of Euclid, including elections for the Euclid City School District Board of Education.

ALLEGATIONS

        5.   Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 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 or color.

        6.   The at-large method of electing the Euclid Board of Education dilutes the voting strength of African-American citizens, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973.

        7.   According to the 2000 Census, the City of Euclid has a total population of 52,717. Of this total population, 30.5% (16,297) is African American, and 65.7% (34,678) is white. Other groups comprise less than four percent of the population.

        8.   According to the 2000 Census, the City of Euclid has a total voting age population is 40,937, 27.8% (11,397) of which is African American and 69.7% (28,528) of which is white.

        9.   The Euclid City School District Board of Education is composed of five members, all of whom are elected at large to four-year staggered terms. Every other year, Euclid voters elect either two or three members of the Euclid City School District Board of Education.

        10.   Racially polarized voting patterns prevail in elections for Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education. African-American voters voting for the Euclid Board of Education are politically cohesive. White bloc voting usually results in the defeat of candidates who are preferred by African-American voters. Specifically, in elections since 1999 for Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education, white voters have consistently voted as a bloc so as to defeat every African-American-preferred African-American candidate.

        11.   Racially polarized voting patterns also prevail in elections for the Euclid City Council. African-American voters voting for the Euclid City Council are politically cohesive. White bloc voting usually results in the defeat of candidates who are preferred by African-American voters. That is, between 1995 and 2007, in elections for the Euclid City Council, white voters have consistently voted as a bloc so as to defeat every African-American preferred African-American candidate.

        12.   The African-American population of Euclid is sufficiently numerous and geographically compact that a properly apportioned five single-member district plan for electing Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education can be drawn in which African-Americans would constitute a majority of the total population and voting age population in one district.

        13.   The dilutive effect of the at-large feature of electing Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education is enhanced by the use of staggered terms.

        14.   African-Americans in the City of Euclid have suffered from a history of official discrimination.

        15.   Elections in the City of Euclid are marked by substantial racial polarization.

        16.   Significant socioeconomic disparities exist between white and African-American residents of Euclid. Such disparities have the effect of limiting African-American participation in Euclid's at-large elections.

        17.   Euclid elections have been marked by racial appeals.

        18.   Social, civic, and political life in the City of Euclid is divided along racial lines. This racial separation results in African-American candidates for city office having less opportunity than white candidates to solicit the votes of the majority voters, who are white.

CAUSE OF ACTION

        19.   Under the totality of the circumstances, the at-large election system for electing Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education, enhanced by the use of staggered terms, has the effect of diluting African-American voting strength, resulting in African-American citizens being denied an opportunity equal to that afforded to other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973.

        20.   Unless enjoined by order of this Court, Defendants will continue to conduct elections for the Euclid City School District Board of Education under the present method of election that denies African-American citizens the opportunity to participate equally with white citizens in the city political process and to elect candidates of their choice, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

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

        (1)   Declaring that the at-large method of electing members of the Euclid Board of Education, utilizing staggered terms, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act;

        (2)   Enjoining Defendants Euclid City School District Board of Education and Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, 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 Euclid City School District Board of Education under the current at-large method of electing members;

        (3)   Ordering Defendant Euclid City School District Board of Education to devise and implement an election system for the Euclid Board of Education that complies with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973; and

        (4)   Ordering such additional relief as the interests of justice may require, together with the costs and disbursements in maintaining this action.

                                                                             Respectfully submitted,

                                                                             MICHAEL MUKASEY
                                                                             Attorney General

                                                                             ________/s/_____________
                                                                             GRACE CHUNG BECKER
                                                                             Acting Assistant Attorney General
                                                                             Civil Rights Division

                                                                             GREGORY A. WHITE
                                                                             United States Attorney

                                                                             _______/s/_____________
                                                                             CHRISTOPHER COATES
                                                                             Chief, Voting Section

                                                                             _______/s/______________
                                                                             SONYA L. SACKS
                                                                             Trial Attorney, Voting Section
                                                                             Civil Rights Division
                                                                             U.S. Department of Justice
                                                                             950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 7254-NWB
                                                                             Washington, D.C. 20530
                                                                             (202) 305-7781 (phone)/ (202) 307-3961 (facsimile)
                                                                             sonya.sacks@usdoj.gov (email address)

                                                                             Attorneys for United States of America

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
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