Fayette County Voting Rights Timeline


Fayette County has been locked in a legal fight since 2011 with the NAACP and a group of black residents over how county government leaders are elected. Here is a time line of the issue and morte informaiton is also available here.

August 2011: NAACP Legal Defense Fund, along with the state and Fayette NAACP and 11 black Fayette residents, sue the Fayette County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education and the Board of Elections saying the county’s at-large voting method disenfranchises blacks. At the time the suit is filed, no black person has ever been elected to county office. The lawsuit is filed just days after the 46th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

February 2012: Plaintiffs and the school board file a motion for approval of a consent decree adopted by the school board saying candidates for school board will now be elected from five equally populated single-member districts. County commissioners oppose the pact saying its not authorized by law.

May 2013: U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. orders Fayette to end at-large voting and establish district voting, including the creation of a majority-black district.

March 2014: Fayette County commissioners and school board, in separate votes, decide to appeal the federal order to end at-large voting in favor of district voting.

November 2014: Tyrone resident Pota Coston beats incumbent Allen McCarty for District 5 commission seat becoming the first black resident to be elected to the county commission.

December 2014: Case goes before a three-judge appeals panel.

January 2015: The federal appeals court in Atlanta sends the Fayette’s case back to the lower court for trial. The appeals panel didn’t overturn Batten’s ruling but said cases like these are normally resolved by bench trial. Batten made his ruling based on court filing and witness statement given in pre-trial deposition testimony.

July 2015: Fayette’s first black commissioner Pota Coston, dies of breast cancer after only six months in office. Fayette Board of Elections votes 2-1 to use at-large voting for special election to replace Coston.NAACP asks the federal court to stop Fayette from using at-large voting to elect Coston’s successor.

August 2015: Batten said Fayette must use district voting to elect Coston’s successor.

September 2015: Charles Rousseau is elected to succeed Coston, becoming the second black elected to the county commission.

October 2015: Two prominent white businessmen as well as the chamber of commerce urge the county to settle the lawsuit and embrace district voting. Batten orders the two sides into mediation.

November 2015: Trial set for this month is postponed.

January 2016: The Fayette school board votes 5-0 to settle a district voting lawsuit brought by the NAACP and a group of black residents in 2011 against the school board, county commissioner and board of elections.

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