Blacks have never been elected to city council, school board or the legislation in the city of Eastpointe, even though one-third of its electorate is black, according to the federal government.
The U.S. Justice Department blames Eastpointe’s electoral process which they allege is racially discriminatory and violates the Voting Rights Act, according to officials.
The feds filed a lawsuit to challenge the at-large method of electing the city council of Eastpointe, Michigan.
The suit is seeking to end the practice, which city officials say has been in place since 1929.
The lawsuit alleges that Eastpointe has racially polarized voting patterns, with white voters consistently opposing and defeating the preferred candidates of Eastpointe’s sizable black community.
Although black residents comprise roughly one-third of the electorate and consistently support black candidates for local office, no black individual has ever served on the Eastpointe City Council.
With Eastpointe’s current system, voting patterns combined with other local factors dilute the black community’s voice and lead to a discriminatory result.
“Federal law seeks to protect diverse communities from discriminatory systems that weaken the power of the franchise,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department hopes to work cooperatively with Eastpointe to ensure that all communities enjoy equitable opportunity in our elections.”
Among other important factors highlighted in the case law, the lawsuit alleges that Eastpointe has racially polarized voting patterns, with white voters consistently opposing and defeating the preferred candidates of Eastpointe’s sizable black community.
To read the federal lawsuit click here: Department of Justice
The Justice Department continues to have positive discussions with the city of Eastpointe and remains hopeful that a settlement will be reached.
As Eastpointe’s next regularly scheduled city council election is set for November 2017, the department’s filing was necessary to preserve the ability of a court to hear this case in a timely manner, according to officials.