Groups sue to overturn Gwinnett commission, school board districts

Voting rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit against Gwinnett County Monday, seeking to overturn county commission and school board districts they say have been drawn to thwart minority voters.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, says minorities in Georgia’s second-largest county have been prevented from electing candidates of their choice even though they collectively constitute a majority of county residents. No minorities have been elected to the county commission or the school board.

Citing provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act, the lawsuit seeks new districts more favorable to minorities, as well as the elimination of the at-large county commission chairman’s job. It could affect county commission elections in November if the plaintiffs seek an immediate injunction to overturn the districts, though an attorney representing them said they have not decided to do so.

“Until it’s an inclusive government, it’s a fraudulent government,” Penny Poole, a Gwinnett resident and one of seven individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the lawsuit on behalf of the individual plaintiffs, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Gwinnett County and school district officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, and rarely comment on pending litigation.

Earlier this year Fayette County settled a voting rights lawsuit by agreeing to eliminate most at-large county commission districts.

Check back for more details.

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