Federal lawsuit filed against Eastpointe over racial voting violations

EASTPOINTE, Mich. – The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday to challenge the election system in Eastpointe that allegedly violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by denying black citizens in the city the equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.

The suit alleges that Eastpointe has racially polarized voting patterns and that although black residents comprise roughly one-third of the electorate and consistently support black candidates for local office, no black individual has ever served on the Eastpointe City Council.

The complaint also alleges that changing the method of voting from the at-large method to electing each councilmember from a district which could create a equitable opportunity for black voters to elect a candidate of their choice.

“Federal law seeks to protect diverse communities from discriminatory systems that weaken the power of the franchise,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “The Justice Department hopes to work cooperatively with Eastpointe to ensure that all communities enjoy equitable opportunity in our elections.”

The lawsuit seeks a federal court order implementing a new method of electing the Eastpointe City Council.

“Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits practices such as Eastpointe’s at-large City Council system where they improperly dilute the ability of citizens to elect the candidates of their choice,” said U.S. Attorney General Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan. “We filed this lawsuit to ensure that all voters in Eastpointe have a fair opportunity to participate in their local government.”