Opponents seek to have DOJ block Greensboro redistricting plan

Democracy at Home, the Guilford County Unity Effort and Democracy NC held a conference call this evening with voting rights attorney Allison Riggs of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Lawyers from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are mounting a legal challenge to the redistricting plan accepted by the Greensboro City Council on Tuesday. The legal team will submit a comment letter outlining objections to the US Justice Department, which must approve the redistricting plan under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is also providing pro bono legal representation to opponents of reopening the White Street Landfill.

From James Burroughs III, president of Democracy at Home:

Attorney Riggs informed us that the Rakestaw redistricting plan does not appear to be in violation of Statute 160 A-23 or in violation of the Greensboro City Charter.…

She indicated that it appears that the council is attempting to move precincts around for their performing ability (i.e. turnout rates). Taken in consideration with other factors such as: 1) The proposed changes disproportionately affect districts 1 and 2 (majority black districts); 2) There is a potential for dilution of minority votes and unnecessary confusion surrounding the issue; and 3) 2010 census data shows a variance of 9.2%, which indicates that no redistricting is necessary; attorney Riggs and all of our partners strongly believe that the city’s redistricting plan is highly suspect and should be legally challenged.

Furthermore, this plan must be submitted to the Department of Justice for review, since precincts within Districts 1 and 2 are protected under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

The legal team at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice is currently working over the next two weeks with Democracy at Home and our community partners to conduct a more in-depth study on the implications of the proposed changes.

Attorney Riggs suggested that we proceed to draft a comment letter that must be included with the proposed changes. She will prepare and send an initial draft of the comment letter, which will be submitted to the Department of Justice for consideration during the required review process.

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