In May, 13 Asian and Hispanic residents of Lowell, Massachusetts, filed a voting rights lawsuit against the city government, alleging the at-large electoral system, in which the winner takes all, dilutes the minority vote and discriminates against the candidates from community of color running for office. The plaintiffs asked the federal court to rule that the city’s electoral system “violates Section 2 the Voting Rights Act” and for “the adoption of at least one district-based seat.” Since 1999, only four Asian and Hispanic candidates have been elected to the Lowell City Council, which is currently all white. The first hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday before the U.S. District Court in Boston. Lowell’s City Council filed a motion to dismiss in its first response to the residents’ lawsuit on Sept. 15.
At the Tuesday hearing, the judge will decide whether to allow the suit to move forward. If it does, Lowell will be going to trial against some of its residents.
“We’re not surprised” by the city’s response, said Oren Sellstrom, litigation director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
Lowell prides itself as being a diverse city, but “it remains to be seen” whether the city wants to “reflect diversity in the hall of power,” Sellstrom said. City officials said they could not discuss the lawsuit because the issue is still in executive session.
Full Article: Minority Residents, Massachusetts City Head to Federal Court.