CASES RAISING CLAIMS UNDER SECTION 2 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
United States v. Ike Brown and
Noxubee County (S.D. Miss. 2005)
In this complaint, the United
States alleges that the practices of local election and party
officials discriminate against whites in violation of Section
2 of the Voting Rights Act. This is the first case filed by the
Department of Justice in which it alleges that whites are being
subjected to discrimination in voting on the basis of their race.
Further, it is alleged that officials have coerced, threatened,
and intimidated voters in violation of Section 11(b) of the Act.
The United States entered in a consent
with the Noxubee County superintendent of general elections,
administrator of absentee ballots, registrar, and the county
government. The consent decree prohibits a wide range of discriminatory
and illegal voting practices, and requires these officials to
report such incidents if they receive information that they are
continuing. This consent decree was approved by the district
court and filed simultaneously with the filing of the complaint.
The remaining defendants who are Noxubee County Election Commission
and the local Democratic Executive Commission and its chairman
did not enter the consent decree, and litigation of the claims
United States v. Berks County (E.D.
The United States alleged in its complaint that the county
violated several sections of the Voting Rights Act. The facts showed that the county
discriminated against Hispanic individuals, primarily Puerto Rican voters, through hostile
treatment at the polls, failure to provide adequate language assistance, and by not
permitting Hispanic voters to bring assistors of their choice into the polling place.
These actions resulted in violations of Sections 2, 4(e), and 208 of the
Voting Rights Act. The court granted a preliminary injunction
on March 18, 2003, and permanent relief on August 20, 2003.
Both decisions resulted in increased protection for Hispanic voters. Since the court
entered its decision, the Department has monitored elections, utilizing federal observers
pursuant to a provision of the order, to ensure compliance with the court's order.
United States v. Alamosa County (D. Colo. 2002)
In this case, the United States' complaint alleged the at-large method of election of the Alamosa
County Board of Commissioners violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it diluted the
voting strength of Hispanic voters in violation of Section 2. The case was tried in May 2003.
On November 26, 2003, the court found for Alamosa County, entering an opinion finding that a
Section 2 violation had not been proved.
United States v. Osceola County (M.D. Fla. 2002)
The complaint filed by the United States in this case alleged that the county violated
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Hispanic voters through hostile
treatment at the polls and the failure to provide adequate language assistance. In addition,
it alleged the county violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by not permitting Hispanic
voters to bring assistors of their choice into the polling places. On July 22, 2002, the
parties entered a consent decree remedying the violations. Since the entry of the consent
decree, the Department has monitored elections to ensure compliance with the consent decree.
United States v. Charleston County (D. S.C. 2001)
The United States alleged in its complaint that the at-large method of electing members of
the Charleston County Commission violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by diluting the
voting strength of African American voters. Prior to the beginning of trial, the court issued
a ruling for the United States on its motion for partial summary judgment that the residential
patterns within the county were such that a council district could be drawn in which minority
voters would be a majority of the population and that African American voters were politically
cohesive. Following trial, the court issued an opinion finding the county's method of election
violated Section 2. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the
trial court's opinion. The opinion of the court of appeals is reported at 365 F.3d 341 (4th Cir. 2004).
The county appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court, and a certiorari was denied
on November 29, 2004.
United States v. Crockett County (W.D. Tenn. 2001)
The United States alleged in its complaint that the method of electing the county's board of
commissioners violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it diluted the voting strength
of African Amerian voters. This case was resolved with the filing of a consent decree, filed
simultaneously with the complaint.
United States v. Blaine County (D. Mont. 1999)
In its complaint, the United States alleged that the at-large method of election for the
Blaine County Commission violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it denied Native
American residents an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect
candidates of their choice. The district court first issued an opinion rejecting the county's
challenge to the constitutionality of Section 2. Following trial, the court issued a decision
holding that the plan violated Section 2 and ordered the county to adopt a remedial plan. The
county appealed the district court's decisions on the constitutionality of Section 2 as well as
its finding that the at-large election method violated federal law to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court of appeals decision, which affirmed both findings, can
be found at 363 F.3d 897 (9th Cir. 2004).
United States v. City of Lawrence (D. Mass. 1998)
In this action, the United States' first complaint, filed in 1998, alleged that the city's
methods of electing its city council and school board violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights
Act because both denied Hispanic citizens an equal opportunity to participate in the political
process and elect candidates of their chioce. The complaint also alleged violations of Section
203 and Section 2 of the Act based on the city's failure to provide Spanish-language minority
citizens with electoral information and assistance in Spanish and the refusal to appoint
Hispanic and Spanish-speaking poll workers. The United States and the city were able to resolve
all the claims except those related to the method of election with a consent decree. The city
subsequently agreed to change the method of electing its school committee from at-large to
single-member districts, and to adopt an election plan for its city council and school board
that complied with Section 2 upon release of the 2000 Census.
In 2001, the United States filed a supplemental complaint, which alleged that the post-2000
Census redistricting plans did not resolved the Section 2 violation. In a separate consent
decree, the city agreed in 2002 to revise the districting plans for both bodies to provide an
additional Hispanic-majority district. The consent decree also required the city to appoint
a person who is bilingual in English and Spanish to the board of registrars and to the staff
in the elections office.