The Justice Department is suing the city of Eastpointe, alleging that it violates the Voting Rights Act by denying black residents an equal opportunity to elect city council members of their choice. The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Detroit, says no black candidate has ever served on the Eastpointe City Council and that white voters have consistently opposed and defeated black voters’ preferred black candidates. It seeks a court order that would force Eastpointe to change how its city council is elected. It currently consists of the mayor and four council members who serve staggered four-year terms. Of the 32,000 people living in Eastpointe in 2010, nearly 10,000 were black, according to the U.S. Census. Current estimates place the city’s black population at closer to 40%.
Eastpointe’s black voters consistently vote for black city council and school board candidates, however none of them have ever been elected, the lawsuit contends.
A review of elections shows “the black population of Eastpointe is politically cohesive and that the white population votes sufficiently as a bloc to usually defeat the preferred candidate of black voters,” the lawsuit argues.
If Eastpointe had four voting districts, the black community is “sufficiently numerous and geographically compact to constitute a majority of the citizen voting-age population in one single-member district,” the lawsuit contends.