Fayette, NAACP resume voting rights mediation Friday

Fayette County and the NAACP are headed back into mediation Friday to try to reach an agreement over how to amicably end a contentious fight over the county’s voting system.

The two sides will meet with Atlanta mediator Steven J. Kaminshine in Atlanta on Friday at 9 a.m. Kaminshine is a dean and professor of law at Georgia State University. The session is not opened to the public.

The county wants to preserve at-large or countywide voting which it has used since its 1821 founding. The NAACP, which sued the county over the issue in 2011, says district voting is more equitable.

In 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. ordered Fayette to adopt district voting, including creating a mostly-black district.  The county appealed.  A year later, Pota Coston was elected Fayette’s first black commissioner but she died six months into office.

Charles Rousseau succeeded Coston, becoming the second black elected to the commission.

Earlier this year, a panel of three appeals court judges ordered the case sent back to Batten for a bench trial which is slated for mid-November.

Batten recently ordered the two sides into mediation.

Kaminshine met last week with Fayette County commissioners, school board members, the board of elections and their attorneys as well as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, state and local NAACP representatives and a group of black Fayette residents who are part of the lawsuit. The two sides did not reach an agreement at that time.