Certainly anyone observing the events of the past year or so can agree that this political season is most contentious in resent history. The divisions that we are witnessing in America today are as broad and distinctive as in the days of the civil rights struggles of the 60s and 70s when urban skies lines could be seen clouded with the dark smoke of burning tenements set ablaze by disenfranchised individuals who felt their voices could not be heard. Underscoring this divide and unrest, is the centuries old battles of race and battles for racial inequality.
Imagine in this politically polarized climate, that an incumbent holding political office, [like the President or a Congressmen or a School Board Member] deciding not to hold a regular election and continue to remain in office without any input from the public or any lawful democratic mandate. Can you imagine the outrage, if not the absolute breach of peace and public tranquility. How about all of this happening and the local news paper not printing a single word either in opposition, explanation or support. And even more amazing, a community letting it happen without so much as a word of protest.
Hard to imagine you say. Not really. Do you remember the October 2011 Henderson Municipal Elections? If not, you are not alone. And its not because there’s something wrong with your memory. Its because there was no election in October 2011. It was canceled by a secret vote of the Henderson City Council. Essentially, the City Council voted their selves into an additional term. Because of that, a group of concerned citizens brought a suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern Division of the District of North Carolina under the Voting Rights Act of 1965: See Alan Pitts, et al. vs. James O’Geary, 5:12-cv-343-D.
Did you know that both Vance County and the City of Henderson are under a section 5 restriction under the Voting Rights Act which prevents either the city or the county from administering any changes to its election’s laws without preapproval for the United States Department of Justice or a declaration of preclearance from a three Judge Panel of the US District Court for Washington DC due to a long history of violating the voting rights of it’s African American citizens.
The law suit seeks to redress what has been described as the capricious denial of the most fundamental bedrock upon which the foundation of our democracy rest; the right to vote. Henderson City Officials, for purposes none other than to achieve partition and financial goals,[including the political and racial gerrymandering of the City of Henderson's four political subdivisions/wards,] failed to conduct the October 3, 2011 regular Municipal Elections for all eight City Council seats and the race for Mayor. Said unelected Council Members and Mayor continue in office without a mandate from the public.
The suit also names Director Faye Gill and the Vance County Board of Elections. That such parties, without requesting the required §5 preclearance from the United States Department of Justice or the approval of a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the DC District, organized the Henderson Municipal Elections and conducted the same on May 8, 2012. Such parties incorrectly gave Notice to the public in four consecutive weekly publications in the Henderson Dispatch, [the City of Henderson's only news paper,] up to two weeks prior to the election, announcing that the City of Henderson would be holding a “Non-Partisan Primary Election.” In actuality, the Henderson Municipal Election is a plurality elections and, unlike a primary, is final with the exception of rare circumstances involving a run off. Consequently, creating additional confusion and reduced turn out in further violation of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§1983 and 1985 and achieving the effect of disenfranchising African American voting of the City of Henderson and Vance County North Carolina. The Mayor and the City Council have all lawyered up with high priced outside council from Raleigh at tax payers expense. So far, the Dispatch has buried the story from the public.
Editors Note #3 – Mr. John H. Zollicoffer, Jr., City Attorney has submitted a reply to this article, the text of which is commented below. You may also download the PDF here: City Voting Lawsuit Reply From Zollicoffer (PDF 3 pages)
Editors Note #2 – You may download the full court records here: 5-12-cv-00343-D (PDF 137 pages)
Editors Note #1 -This is not from the commenter known as Anonymous, I mean to say that it is from an anonymous submitter.