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, depriving them of a full say on issues ranging from immigration enforcement to school discipline. Though blacks, Latinos and Asians account for more than half of Gwinnett’s population, no minority has ever been elected to the county commission or the school board, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit against the county and the school board seeks new districts favorable to minorities, as well as the possible elimination of the at-large county commission chairman’s job. An attorney for the plaintiffs said they had not ruled out seeking the changes in advance of this November’s county commission and school board elections, though in the past judges have been reluctant to order such changes so close to an election.
A Gwinnett County spokesman said its attorneys will review the lawsuit, which has not yet been served on the county. A school district spokeswoman declined to comment. The lawsuit seeks to overturn County Commission and Board of Education districts.
The lawsuit is the latest skirmish over minority voting rights in Gwinnett.
Last year, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) asked Gwinnett and Hall counties to provide Spanish-language ballots and voting materials. The group cited a provision of the federal Voting Rights Act that GALEO says requires such assistance for Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens but may not use English as their primary language. Both counties rejected the requests. Now GALEO is one of the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit.