“On February 13, 2017, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit on behalf of four black voters alleging the method of electing the Jones County Board of Commissioners violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The suit maintains that the at-large method of electing members of the Board deprives Jones County’s African-American community of the ability to elect any candidates of their choice. All five of the current sitting Commissioners are white. Black-preferred candidates are consistently successful in primary elections. However, given that Jones County’s white voters comprise the majority of the voting age population, and because of racially polarized voting, black-preferred candidates are consistently defeated in the general elections. The VRA prohibits this discriminatory voting scheme, and the county could easily create an election system where all Jones County voters are represented.
The Lawyers’ Committee filed the lawsuit with pro bono law firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Patterson Harkavy LLP in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The suit is part of our national initiative to secure racial justice using the rule of law. In the last 50 years, only three African Americans have been elected to the Jones County Board of Commissioners. The Lawyers’ Committee’s legal action seeks to ensure that African Americans in Jones County will be represented on the county Board, even in the face of persistent racially polarized voting.”