Washington, DC - The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement to settle a voting rights lawsuit with the City of Eastpointe, Michigan. The Department’s lawsuit challenges the method of electing the city council in Eastpointe under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Under this agreement, the city will change its method of electing its city council to ensure compliance with the protections of Section 2.
The agreement, which must be approved by the federal district court in Detroit, was entered into by the parties to resolve the Department’s lawsuit with the City of Eastpointe filed in 2017. The Department’s complaint alleges the current method of election for the Eastpointe City Council results in black citizens in Eastpointe having less opportunity than white citizens to participate in the political process and to elect candidates of their choice to the city council, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Subject to court approval, the agreement will alter the method of electing the Eastpointe City Council, from a traditional at-large method of election to one that utilizes ranked choice voting beginning with the November 2019 election. Under the agreement, the city councilmembers will continue to be elected on a citywide basis, but under the new ranked choice voting system, Eastpointe voters will rank city council candidates in their order of preference. The agreement provides that the city will conduct a robust voter education program for the new method of election.
“This agreement reflects the Department’s resolute commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Voting Rights Act to protect the right to vote in all elections,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that the City of Eastpointe has worked cooperatively with the Department to adopt a solution that safeguards the right to vote.”
“Voting is the cornerstone of our Republic, and the Justice Department is committed to protecting and strengthening the right to vote,” stated United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider. “This settlement reflects the desire of all of the parties to ensure the citizens of Eastpointe have a meaningful opportunity to choose their elected representatives.”