A contentious voting rights case involving Fayette County and the NAACP appears headed to trial. The three-judge panel in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the lower court for trial. “We conclude that this case warrants a limited remand so that the district court may conduct a trial,” the judges said in their 26-page decision. The decision came down late Wednesday afternoon. The appeals court ruling is the latest chapter in a three-and-half-year old legal fight over Fayette’s voting system.
The NAACP, on behalf of a group of black Fayette residents, sued Fayette county – namely the board of commission and school board – saying its at-large voting system kept blacks from being elected to the commission and school board. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the county move to district voting. That plan created five districts, one of which was mostly minority.
The first test of the new voting system took place this past November: voters elected the first black to the commission. Pota Coston was sworn as commissioner of District 5, a mostly minority district, earlier this week.