New law creates Fayette’s new voting system

Gov. Deal signed into law this week a redistricting plan agreed to by Fayette County, the NAACP and a group of black resident as part of a pact to settle a lawsuit involving the county’s voting system.

House Bill 955 caps a four-and-a-half year-old feud between the county and the NAACP over how county government officials are elected in Fayette. The civil rights organization had argued that the at-large system Fayette had used since its 1821 founding kept blacks from being elected to the county school board and the county commission. The two sides finally reached an agreement in January to create four district seats and one at-large seat.

“It’s a momentous occasion that after decades of seeking fair electoral opporunities that the plaintiffs have achieved that through this legislation,” said Leah Aden, assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York.

County voters elected their first black commissioner - Pota Coston - during the midst of the court fight using a court-mandated plan that created a majority-black district, District 5. Coston died after only six months in office. Charles Rousseau, who is black, was elected to fill her seat.

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