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No answers in voting rights lawsuit

Will 10 elected officials surrender or will they litigate?

And will money — or the lack of it — become the deciding factor in the biggest voting rights case ever to hit Fayette County?

Officials with Fayette County government and the Fayette County Board of Education are not divulging how they will address a lawsuit filed by the Fayette County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and 11 individual county residents.

Hanging in the balance is a potential seismic change to the way Fayette County residents elect members of the county commission and the board of education. Currently, any Fayette resident registered to vote can vote on all five members of each board.

But the NAACP wants both governing bodies to adopt a new scenario that would limit each resident to picking just one member on each board, with the express goal of creating a special “majority minority” district that would in theory guarantee a person of color would be elected to the school board and county commission in that district.

The side effect, however, is that district voting would severely restrict the political clout currently enjoyed by Fayette County voters of all colors: the chance to directly decide all five representatives of the school board and county commission.

The current scheme of all county voters voting for all members of both boards has been in place for decades before the county’s minority population grew beyond single digit percentages. The growth of minorities from under 5 percent of the population in the 1980s to nearly 20 percent in the 2010 census has changed the dynamics of the voting equation.

The NAACP lawsuit claims that Fayette’s current election system violates the federal Voting Rights Act. The suit was filed in federal court and barring any major developments to settle, it will be determined by a U.S. District Court judge.

While the county commission has hired a law firm that specializes in such cases, the cash-strapped board of education has decided to have its own contract attorney, Phillip Hartley, handle the case.

The county’s law firm, Strickland Brockington Lewis, is using demographers to analyze the data behind the NAACP’s claim along with a proposed new district map that was submitted by the NAACP to the county. Both county and NAACP representatives have declined to provide The Citizen with copies of the maps, citing a protection due to the maps being part of “attorney-client work product.”

The Citizen asked County Manager Jack Krakeel last week if any decisions have been made on a direction to take in the lawsuit, and whether the possibility has been explored of helping “share” the county law firm’s expertise with the board of education.

Krakeel would only reply, “We are still in the discovery phase.”

In other words, the commission is playing its hand close to its vest, at least at this point.

School board attorney Hartley also declined to comment about any details of the school system’s plans to address the lawsuit.

“It is not appropriate for me to comment on strategy decisions or possibilities that may or may not arise during the course of litigation. We will be representing the School District in this matter and will be glad to respond as events actually occur,” Hartley said.

The Citizen was hoping to divine some answers from the school system to the following questions:

• Do you intend to fight the lawsuit or go for settlement? And if you fight it, what potential time lines do you foresee?

• Do you have any idea to date on a general or specific cost for the litigation?

• Given the cost or any other factors, is settling out of court something you’re considering?

• What feedback on this matter are you getting from the community?

• Can your attorney provide us with proposed maps of the redrawn voting districts?

The Citizen also asked how the school system would pay to defend the lawsuit, whether Hartley has the expertise to handle the response to the complaint, and whether the school system might seek to cost share with the county to lessen the financial expense, given that there could be enough similarities between both cases to help shave costs.

School superintendent Jeff Bearden declined to make any comments, saying that the questions had to do with “pending litigation.”

For its part, county officials have previously noted they are trying to keep costs down in the litigation by, for example, limiting the number of experts sought early on.

In the federal complaint, a good bit of attention is paid to the 2006 special election for one of the seats on the county commission. In that election Robert Horgan, a white candidate, won a five-way race for a vacant seat on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners against four other black candidates. That race included two black Democratic candidates, Wendi Felton and Charles Rousseau, along with black Republican candidates Emory Wilkerson and Malcolm Hughes.

The suit does not, however, detail that while 51.7 percent of the voters chose Horgan, the remaining vote was split amongst the four black candidates, with Wilkerson leading the others with 29.05 percent of the vote. Nor does it provide a racial breakdown of how many voters supported which candidate.

The suit also focuses on the 2010 defeat of Laura Burgess, a black college professor who ran as a Democrat for an open seat on the Fayette County Board of Education against Republican challenger Sam Tolbert, a retired college professor. The suit claims that Burgess “received near unanimous support from black voters (99 percent) but less than 20 percent of white votes.”

Burgess only got 31.5 percent of the vote countywide, according to county election results.

While the suit does not touch on the subject, Burgess’ campaign was notable because she never responded to a list of questions submitted to all candidates by The Citizen newspaper, the results of which were subsequently published. Tolbert did respond to The Citizen’s questions, and his answers were published in the paper.

Also not mentioned in the suit, Burgess also declined to return a number of phone calls for comment placed by The Citizen during the campaign, although she spoke with a reporter once in May soon after she qualified.

 

— Additional reporting by Ben Nelms

Location: 

Comments

suggarfoot's picture

how many different offices has that NAACP guy run for and lost? Seems to me he is more in love with a seat of power than anything else. Now he wants to legally rig the outcome so he can win! Disgusting!

Suggarfoot, how would that work in Fayetteville? Looking at the percentage of voters in certain polling areas - is there a black block? Many developments in the Fayetteville area have discussed having a representative that votes their interests and concerns. These developments are very integrated - even Whitewater Creek. The voters in the last election in Fayetteville said goodbye to incumbents - and elected new representatives, including a black man. Let progress continue without bringing out the 'racism' that Fayette County was known for 20-30 years ago. Let progress continue. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't know the black politician involved with the local NAACP - but district voting can benefit other than 'black folks'.

Justice Department has blocked South Carolina's voter picture ID law as discriminatory.

Good.

Now maybe the Feds will do the same for the Georgia voter ID law.

lion

Cyclist's picture

Source WSJ:

Artur Davis, a former member of the Congressional Black Caucus from Alabama who left office last year, defended voter ID requirements and said the only people harmed are those attempting to skirt the law.

"Voter fraud is something that does happen. It's a lot more likely to happen in rural communities. It's a lot more likely to happen in communities were one political machine is trying to hold on to power," said Mr. Davis. "And in virtually every campaign that I ran in my district, there were a few counties where I had to worry about the ballots being cooked, where you knew that you were going to lose a certain number of absentee ballots. And you had to offset it on Election Day. And you knew that's the way politics was practiced."

Mr. Davis said the argument that showing identification to vote is too cumbersome is specious. "If you try to cash a check in his country, you better have an ID. If you want to get on a plane, you better have an ID. If you want to get in a building in New York or Washington, D.C., chances are you better have an ID -- whether it's a government building or a private building in many cases. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that if we have this standard for all the other things that we do, that we should have them for voting too."

But with all this said you can still submit an absentee ballot without an ID. So go figure.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

[quote]But with all this said you can still submit an absentee ballot without an ID. So go figure.[/quote]

Right! (But you need an address to get an absentee ballot in many cases.) There are those who feel that citizens in this condition shouldn't be voting anyway. Actually, in today's economy, skin color doesn't have too much to do with being homeless. Sad. IMHO No address - no rights. Hmmmmm.

hutch866's picture

You need an address to vote in any case?

I yam what I yam

Having never been without an address - I really don't know. Would be worth finding out. In Los Angeles, in the 70's, we had to build two schools in the downtown area for children who were living in abandoned office buildings - and could not give us an address. (A legal address) Many of these students were NOT MINORITIES OR ILLEGALS. It is sad that often the real problem of the poor in this country is addressed as if it is only a 'minority' problem. Just saying.

hutch866's picture

Doesn't your address decide where you vote? Let's see, no address, no ID, I guess you can vote several times in several locations. What's to prevent that?

I yam what I yam

No address - you're not on anyones list -right? No assigned polling place. A picture ID verifies you're who you say you are.
Possibly don't need an address. For citizens without a bank account, drivers license, etc., etc. - But why worry, ... We can't get more than 50% of eligible registered voters to vote! If we say that all registered voters can vote - and a segment of those registered don't live the lifestyle where they would automatically have a picture ID, then a reasonable plan should be available to them to get that ID - better than counting beans in a jar. Don't worry, just like eligible voters were registered in the past, we will do the right thing to make sure a citizen is not denied this opportunity to participate in the election process. The courts are working on it. We have overcome the hanging chads, we'll overcome this not so subtle attempt at controlling the vote.

Mike King's picture

Well since the Supreme Court upheld the rights of two states, Georgia and Indiana, what do you suppose the chances are currently? BTW, aren't all those folks cashing welfare checks required to show a picture ID? Just asking.

NUK_1's picture

Would someone enlighten me on why minorities are much more likely than non-minorities to not have photo ID?

Let's see.......

You can't get a job without photo ID due to federal law

You cannot open or use a bank account without photo ID due to "Know Your Customer" federal laws governing banks.

You cannot operate a motor vehicle without photo ID (drivers license) due to every state law.

You cannot travel by airplane without photo ID due to federal law.

You cannot travel by Greyhound bus or Amtrak without photo ID.

Yet, it's some way "discriminatory" to require a photo ID to vote? In fairness to the incompetent moron AG Eric Holder, he's been getting a ton of heat from alleged "civil rights groups" about all the states that have and are in the process of implementing right now photo ID laws as well as having to testify to Congress over "Fast and Furious" and then re-testify about how he didn't "technically" lie under oath previously and also how he thinks no one in Justice lied themselves even though that's already been proven, refusal to defend federal law on DOMA and immigration, the whole "New Black Panther" voting dust-up.....etc.etc.etc., but enough is enough. Show some common sense and a spine or just quit.

Eric Holder makes complete morons Ed Meese and Gonzalez look like brilliant AG's. Of all of Obama's appointees, Holder is by far the worst and no one else comes close.

So....it's OK to require photo ID for anything else besides voting? Uh, no. It allegedly "disproportionally" affects people that frankly shouldn't be allowed to vote in the first place. If you are completely non-functional as a citizen and have no idea about how to obtain a photo ID that you some how can survive without the other 364 days of the year, why should I worry about making it easy for you to vote?

carbonunit52's picture

As with guns and abortion, those that want free access see any restrictions as a threat and common sense solutions are not even considered. Humans are too emotional to be rational (see Politics for a vivid example).

SPQR's picture

There are some who disagree with you on the rationality statement. let's see if you get the push back I got

carbonunit52's picture

I believe the blogger who replied to your statement on the subject has decided that I am incorrigible, so I don't expect anything there. I agree with the conclusion that humans are not rational, they rationalize, and are pretty darn good at it too. Why else would we be considering a trip to Mars?

SPQR's picture

Probably sent by V'ger.

Merry Christmas

You've answered your own question. The sad thing is that you - and most middle class people - are unaware of the answer.

[quote]You can't get a job without photo ID due to federal law
You cannot open or use a bank account without photo ID due to "Know Your Customer" federal laws governing banks.
You cannot operate a motor vehicle without photo ID (drivers license) due to every state law.
You cannot travel by airplane without photo ID due to federal law.
You cannot travel by Greyhound bus or Amtrak without photo ID[/quote]

There is a sizable group in these United States who are not mentally capable of getting a job - many of them homeless veterans of all races as well as some minorities. No job, no money, no need for a bank account. Have you ever seen the large number of people who carry their total belongings with them in a shopping cart? Not everyone owns a car. Travel? They are still citizens with the 'right' and responsibility to 'vote'. (I didn't even mention the citizens that I have witnessed in rural Georgia - many not considered 'minority'.

If these people could be issued an ID at no cost - then they could vote. Most of the undereducated, poor in this country are still a too large segment of the minority population. I think that's a fact. I'm sure you'll let me know if I'm mistaken. Those of us who are considered 'minority' - yet middle class - have no problem, but in this country one shouldn't be denied the right to vote due to class or economic circumstances - right?

hutch866's picture

I believe most these voter ID bills carry provisions for giving out free ID's, it's just glossed over in the argument against the bills.

I yam what I yam

Like the one bus that was going to cover Georgia in taking photos for the free ID? What's important in any bill is the plan for implementation.

Mike King's picture

Mentally incapable of getting a job? That does leave an argument for being incapable of voting. Who chooses for an Alzheimer's patient? Does rounding up winos off the street seem the right thing to do? Should we place polling booths in our prisons? I could go on, but you get the picture.

I certainly don't have the answer to fit all, but should one revert back to those qualifications intended by the Framers, a photo ID would be the least of your worries.

No photo ID, no vote. My opinion.

You are fortunate to be unfamiliar with the problems that many of our veterans are facing today with getting and holding on to a job. They do not have Alzheimers. . . But are capable of voting. Make a photo ID available to all. A veteran should have one, but I checked with my husband, and his photo ID from the military is not current. Is yours? I have a feeling that there are some who are completely unaware of the plight of a growing segment of our population. Make a photo ID available to all - so that not only a certain class of people can vote. . . . Or is that what we're trying to return to? The sad reality is, too many of the middle class have abandoned their responsibility IMHO. Hey, why the fear of 12% of the population?

G35 Dude's picture

At least in Georgia anyone can get a photo ID at the DMV. Veterans can get them free I believe. And while I am familiar with the problems with some veterans, I'm also aware that while they may have earned the right to vote they may no longer have the capacity. They deserve our respect and all the care we can give them. But, as I have stated in past conversations between us, I believe that part of the problem with our system today is allowing many to vote that don't have the ability to do so. If they are incapable of getting a photo ID, I have no faith in their ability to make a good voting decision. So I have to agree with those here that say No ID, No vote.

You can't use logic with an illogical person.

Don't know what that means--and is not relevant to the subject at hand. "May no longer have the capacity"---what does that mean?'
Howdoes one "earnthe right to vote"?

G35 Dude's picture

The post was intended for DM. She'll understand. But if you read Mike Kings post to her and her response to him you should be able to pick up the gist of it. If not I'm afraid I can't help you.

You can't use logic with an illogical person.

[quote]At least in Georgia anyone can get a photo ID at the DMV[/quote]

True, if you have bus transportation, a car, money for a taxi, a good friend. In communities like Fayetteville, most of us could get to the DMV - what about other 'rural' 'suburban' areas in this state? All I'm sayin' is make available for all citizens. . .and take a legal photo when one registers if necessary and issue the ID after an e-verify check. Now what's threatening about that? The right and responsibility is given to all law abiding citizens by our Constitution and it's amendments.

<strong>MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE</strong>

G35 Dude's picture

[quote]True, if you have bus transportation, a car, money for a taxi, a good friend. In communities like Fayetteville, most of us could get to the DMV - what about other 'rural' 'suburban' areas in this state? All I'm sayin' is make available for all citizens. . .and take a legal photo when one registers if necessary and issue the ID after an e-verify check. Now what's threatening about that? The right and responsibility is given to all law abiding citizens by our Constitution and it's amendments. [/quote]

No disagreement with that!

You can't use logic with an illogical person.

Sorry, no such thing in our Constitution. Individual States make their own rules, insuring that all will be unequal! We should all come down on the side of "informed voting", which in many cases, is highly unlikely, sad to say.

[quote]The right and responsibility is given to all law abiding citizens by our Constitution and it's amendments[/quote]

Maybe our interpretation of the Constitution and its amendments is different:

15th Race cannot be used as a criteria for voting

19th Women have the right to vote

GREAT TO HAVE BASKETBALL BACK ON TV!!

Yes, our reading & understanding may be different--I read those admendments as denying states the right to deny citizens to vote based on race or sex---I still see no overall "right to vote" anywhere. Not trying to be argumentative here, but just don't see that "right" you are so fond of quoting actually in writing anywhere-would be appreciative of help in finding such language.

G35 Dude's picture

[quote]Yes, our reading & understanding may be different--I read those admendments as denying states the right to deny citizens to vote based on race or sex---I still see no overall "right to vote" anywhere. Not trying to be argumentative here, but just don't see that "right" you are so fond of quoting actually in writing anywhere-would be appreciative of help in finding such language.[/quote]

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. (Other than to be argumentative) But if you want someone to say that there is nothing in the constitution that states that we have a right to vote equal to a statement that we have a right to free speech you are correct. Yet it does say that officials will be elected by the people. (Except President who is chosen by electoral vote) Some may feel that leaves an implied right to vote. It then says that people can not be denied based on certain criteria. The balance of those who "have a right to vote" is decided by each state. In the beginning States actually had rights that exceeded those of the Federal Government. Now having said all of that for you, I will re-state my earlier accretion that a veteran that has fought for this country and still has the mental capacity HAS EARNED THE RIGHT TO VOTE. Maybe not in your eyes since the Constitution does not spell it out for you but in my eyes they should go first!

You can't use logic with an illogical person.

If you know my history, you should know that I will most likely never argue against vets. Now, just who judges "Mental Capacity"? I would argue that many who vote, regardless of vet status, do not have the mental capacity to originate an informed opinion about who is best qualified to serve in elected office. Your turn.

Two very different items IMO. Many 'bright and intelligent' citizens have made uninformed decisions at the local and national level. Many of our citizens make decisions based on their perspective only - and never take the time to try to understand the other's point of view. Compromise happens when one 'understands' the other point of view - and tries to reach some decision where both 'sides' get something - rather than hold up a solution due to stubbornness and inability to 'compromise'. (Courts and school records and medical records often define 'mental capacity'.) Many illnesses leave a person incapable of completing complicated tasks required on a job - but they are not mentally incapacitated. One passes a test to become a citizen; one receives a certain level of education by a certain age. It will be difficult to revise the 'voting rights test' in this country, especially in a state that is 48 out of 50 in academic achievement. Most citizens are inundated with information during an election year. . . unfortunately over half of our citizens don't bother to vote.

G35 Dude's picture

[quote]Now, just who judges "Mental Capacity"?[/quote]

I guess the same people that decide it now. Doctors, Judges etc.

[quote]I would argue that many who vote, regardless of vet status, do not have the mental capacity to originate an informed opinion about who is best qualified to serve in elected office. Your turn.[/quote]

I have to concede that point to you since I've said much the same thing in the past. LOL

You can't use logic with an illogical person.

Enjoy your Christmas day.

NUK_1's picture

Why do you think a lot of states used to or still do restrict the sale of alcohol on election days?

To me, the less voter turnout, the better. That means my vote proportionally counts more and the whole "poor agenda" is hostile to me. I'm not in the alleged "1%" but I sure don't want to see the most ignorant and least of us electing our representatives.

Tend to agree with you but you can't escape reality when one party or the other offers free smokes and a bus ride to vote for a specific candidate. I don't know if that's truly what happens, but it does get press, fact or fiction. We can only do what we, as individuals, think is right and be content with that. Truth is, there just ain't much that, collectively, we can't handle!!

I understand - but in todays economy more citizens than you seem to realize are unable to do the simple thing like get a photo ID. I don't think a country like ours should have a large class of uneducated citizens - but we do! Even if they went to school - they are graduating without the skills necessary to form an educated/informed decision on many issues. (This is nothing new in our country - unfortunately.) An educated populace who feel they have the opportunity to contribute and succeed won't sit in parks throughout the world in anger and disgust with how the educated and powerful are conducting business. The US is not the only country with this problem today.

Had to stop laughing before I answered this one! LOL!! I'm sure you're not telling us that you think that all poor and uneducated are drunk on election day!! I think someone is fearful of the intelligent, informed populace that may come to the polling place drunk. In today's economy, not all 'poor' people are ignorant or uneducated. I was appalled when I found out that one of my finest teachers was living out of her car; there were students who met their parent each day because they did not have a permanent place to stay - NONE OF THESE PEOPLE WERE IGNORANT OR UNEDUCATED!! The poor in our country do have rights. I'm sure you have more than four months of funds to keep you in your home if for some reason funds were not available to you. Too many people today are living from paycheck to paycheck - and too many people have been without a paycheck for a long time. Now that's not a laughing matter.

NUK_1's picture

Politicians and their allies used to get people to the polling booths by promising them a bottle or a drink if they voted. That's the reason for the alcohol sale restrictions on election day in the past decades, and it still happens even now.

As far as what the poor and uneducated are doing on election day, I hope they aren't voting. Hell, maybe I should buy them a drink NOT to vote.

May you always have a dime in your pocket and the wind at your back. May you never be poor. May your mind always operate at it's optimum. There are poor people today who probably scored higher on intelligence tests than either you or I. A person today in the US is ASSUMED to have a minimum education by a certain age. You don't have to have a high school diploma to vote. Are you advocating that all of those who have not worked in two or three years and are legally considered 'poor' - should not have the right to vote? Interesting.

[QUOTE]As far as what the poor and uneducated are doing on election day, I hope they aren't voting. Hell, maybe I should buy them a drink NOT to vote.[/QUOTE]

Is this a 'Libertarian' stand?

S. Lindsey's picture

There is no Constitutional right to vote.

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

Interesting that there are amendments to the Constitution to stop the denial of that 'perceived' right to certain citizens. The courts have made it clear that states cannot deny a citizen the right to vote. That is federal - and Georgia is still being monitored to see that this is implemented by this state.

S. Lindsey's picture

Does not matter how it has been abridged the Constitution does not give any individual the right to vote. JeffC and I have already hashed this one out. He too thought it did... it does not.

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

NUK_1's picture

States CAN and do deny citizens the right to vote. All US states limit voting to people 18 years or higher presently, however, states can set the voting age lower if they want to. States also have the power to decide whether non-citizens are allowed to vote and if so, which type of elections they can/cannot. Several states ban convicted felons from ever being allowed to vote while others do not allow felons presently incarcerated to vote. States also have their own residency and registration requirements such as how long you have to be registered to vote before you are allowed to.

SLindsey is also correct that nowhere in the Constitution is there any explicit right to vote. The only issues addressed are specific factors like race, sex, religion, property, physical access, etc. that cannot be used to deny people the ability to vote.

Thank you.

suggarfoot's picture

When I was little, my parents had heard that the sherif was paying the people that would sell their votes. Because he was a crook, my parents drove together with us kids in the car up there to check it out. Sure enough, I will always remember my parents having a long conversation with him. They confronted him with what they had heard and he was not at all ashamed of what he was doing. He had a pickup truck, and the whole back was full of people who had just gone in and voted. He was in the process, and finished paying them $5.00 each for their votes. He finally excused himself saying he had to take these home and go pick up another load, and intended on doing so till the polls closed!

In retaliation, others had registered their dead relatives to vote.

This is what went on, and WILL go on, if you make it to where anyone can vote, so to speak without proper ID.

The Blacks that are pushing this as a way to control the voting outcome are naive at best if they don't think the whites will do the same . The whites will find the loopholes and work them just as well.

What they are thinking is that they will register many at say River Oaks in those hugh houses. Do not ever think the same won't be applied by whites in whitewater, etc. The blacks that are pushing this are on a fools mission.

What we have may be flawed, but it is the best we have.

ps...I took my 90 year old mother who lives in a small town to the bank. The knew her quite well but she hadn't had a drivers ID for years. She was moving a very large amount of money and they sent her home to fish for her SS card or anything else she had. If she didn't come back with it, she couldn't move her money. End of story.

It appears they do want to stack the deck and have a non-white represent a segment of our community. Trust is what I see as the big reason for this. Funny in this country we put a man of color in the presidents seat but can't trust our neighbor for local elections.

Oh, why waste the time.

I'm sure you're not implying that all 'blacks' in FC are on welfare. The welfare check, like our payroll check can be deposited at an ATM. . . .no photo needed.

hutch866's picture

But you need the photo ID to open a bank account to get the use of an ATM. I Think you just proved his point.

I yam what I yam

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