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The Use of Section 2 to Secure Fair Representation

A state-by-state compilation of successful litigation under the Section 2 vote dilution doctrine to secure fair representation for communities of color.

Last Updated: August 13, 2021
Published: August 12, 2021

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act ensures that communities of color in all 50 states have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect candidates of choice. The act has been a powerful tool that has helped secure fair representation for Black, Latino, Asian, and native communities through its deterrent effects and by giving voters of color an opportunity to challenge discriminatory schemes in federal court. This resource compiles successful cases that have been brought under Section 2’s vote dilution doctrine since Congress last reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006. 


  • California
    • Luna v. Cty. of Kern, 291 F. Supp. 3d 1088 (E.D. Cal. 2018) (Plaintiffs challenged the districting plan for the Kern County, California Board of Supervisors, seeking to create a second majority-Latino district. Under the totality of circumstances, the districting plan for the Kern County, California Board of Supervisors deprived Latino voters of equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice, in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act.).
  • Florida
    • United States v. Osceola Cty., Fla., 475 F. Supp. 2d 1220 (M.D. Fla. 2006) (United States sued Osceola County, Florida, claiming that at-large method of electing board of county commissioners abridged voting rights of Latino residents. Court found all three Gingles factors and a majority of the Senate factors present, thus under a totality of the circumstances the election process violated § 2 of the Voting Rights Act).
  • Georgia
    • Wright v. Sumter Cty. Bd. of Elections & Registration, 301 F. Supp. 3d 1297 (M.D. Ga. 2018), aff’d, 979 F.3d 1282 (11th Cir. 2020) (African American resident challenged Sumpter county board of election in which Black voters were fragmented amongst 5 single-member districts and 2 at-large districts. Under the totality of circumstances, African American voters had less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice than white citizens.).
    • Georgia State Conf. of the NAACP v. Fayette Cty. Bd. of Comm’rs, 118 F. Supp. 3d 1338 (N.D. Ga. 2015) (African American voters brought action alleging that at-large method of electing County Board of Commissioners (BOC) and Board of Education. Plaintiffs sought and were granted preliminary injunction, enjoining county from holding special election for BOC vacancy using the at-large method in place prior to litigation. The remedial plan developed during litigation was later adopted in settlement agreements that resulted from court ordered mediation. Consent Order (Document 289), Georgia State Conf. of the NAACP v. Fayette Cty. Bd. of Comm’rs (No. 3:11-cv-00123 N.D. Georgia, Jan. 28th, 2016 ).
  • Michigan
    • United States v. City of Eastpointe, No. 417CV10079TGBDRG, 2019 WL 2647355 (E.D. Mich. June 26, 2019), motion for relief from judgment denied, 17-CV-10079, 2020 WL 127953 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 10, 2020) (The United States sued the city of Eastpointe, Michigan, over at-large voting method used to elect city council, alleging vote dilution of Black residents. In Consent Judgement and Decree, Defendants did not concede the ultimate issue of § 2 liability but acknowledged the presence of Gingles factors and likelihood of the United States succeeding at trial under the totality of the circumstances. Defendants agreed to discontinue the at-large, multiple-vote method of electing the city council and implement a ranked choice voting system.).
  • Mississippi
    • Jamison v. Tupelo, Mississippi, 471 F. Supp. 2d 706 (N.D. Miss. 2007) (African American voters challenged city’s election scheme for city council members, in which seven city council members were elected from single member districts and two city council members were elected at large, diluted African American voting strength. The court held that the totality of the circumstances, including the city’s use of majority vote primaries and the fact that no African American has won a contested city-wide election for mayor or at-large city council member, supported a § 2 violation.).
  • Missouri
    • Missouri State Conf. of the Nat’l Ass’n for the Advancement of Colored People v. Ferguson-Florissant Sch. Dist., 201 F. Supp. 3d 1006 (E.D. Mo. 2016), aff’d, 894 F.3d 924 (8th Cir. 2018) (African American voters alleged that the at-large method, combined with off-cycle elections and staggered terms of electing members to the school board constituted vote dilution. The court ruled that these procedures interacted with Senate factors to hinder African American electoral success under the totality of the circumstances.).
  • New York
    • Pope v. Cty. of Albany, 94 F. Supp. 3d 302 (N.D.N.Y. 2015) (Black and Latino voters challenged the districting plan for the Albany County legislature, which is divided into 39 single member districts, alleging that § 2 of the Voting Rights Act required the creation of an additional majority-minority district. The court held that “the totality of the circumstances—in particular the persistent presence of racial bloc voting, the continued low levels of minority-preferred candidate success, the lingering effects of past discrimination that continue to inhibit minority participation in the electoral process…dilutes the voting strength of [B]lack voters in the County.”).
    • Nat’l Ass’n for Advancement of Colored People, Spring Valley Branch v. E. Ramapo Cent. Sch. Dist., 462 F. Supp. 3d 368 (S.D.N.Y. 2020), aff’d sub nom. Clerveaux v. E. Ramapo Cent. Sch. Dist., 984 F.3d 213 (2d Cir. 2021)) (Minority registered voters brought action against school district, alleging that the election system for board of education resulted in minority vote dilution. Totality of circumstances, which included election system through which a bloc of white Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish voters was usually able to defeat Black and Latino preferred candidates, and a slating process in which the white, private school community arranged token victories by candidates of color for the sake of appearance, constituted a § 2 violation).
    • United States v. Vill. of Port Chester, 704 F. Supp. 2d 411 (S.D.N.Y. 2010) (The United States filed action against Port Chester, alleging that at-large system used to elect six members of village’s board of trustees denied Latino population equal opportunity to participate in political process and elect representatives of their choice. The Court held that the totality of circumstances, including a candidate selection process which allowed limited access to outsiders or upstart candidates, supported finding of § 2 violation.).
    • Flores v. Town of Islip, No. 18-CV-3549 (GRB)(ST), 2020 WL 6060982 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 14, 2020) (Hispanic and Latino residents of the Town of Islip and two community advocacy organizations challenged the at-large voting procedure used to elect the four councilpersons of the Town Board. The Court previously denied Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction request but found that Plaintiffs were able to satisfy the Gingles factors, which parties do not contest. In consent decree, Defendants stipulated that the at-large system for elections violated § 2 of the Voting Rights Act.).
  • Ohio
    • United States v. City of Euclid, 580 F. Supp. 2d 584 (N.D. Ohio 2008) (The United States challenged the districting scheme for the Euclid city council, which comprised a combination of slotted, at-large and single member districts, claiming that the scheme diluted the votes of African Americans in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Totality of circumstances, included the use of a numbered post system that enhanced vote dilution, supported finding of § 2 liability. The Court ordered the creation of at least two African American majority districts through the elimination of the four, slotted, at-large seats).
    • United States v. Euclid City Sch. Bd., 632 F. Supp. 2d 740 (N.D. Ohio 2009) (The United States challenged the at-large districting scheme for the Euclid school board, claiming that the scheme diluted the votes of African Americans in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Based on liability established in previous Euclid voting cases, the Board conceded that its current method of elections denies minorities the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the political process, in violation of § 2. The Court ordered the implementation of limited voting as a remedy.).
  • South Dakota
    • Bone Shirt v. Hazeltine, 336 F. Supp. 2d 976 (D.S.D. 2004) (Native American voters sued alleging that South Dakota legislative redistricting plan violated Voting Rights Act by packing Native Americans into district that was over 90% Native American. Court found § 2 violation, partially on the basis that Plaintiffs introduced five examples of redistricting plans that created at least one additional majority-Indian house district while adhering to traditional redistricting principles.).
  • Texas
    • Patino v. City of Pasadena, 230 F.Supp.3d 667 (S.D. Tex. 2017) (Latino voters brought action against the city of Pasadena, alleging that city’s change from eight single-member districts for electing city council members to six single member districts and two at-large districts diluted Latino voting strength by reducing the majority-Latino districts from four to three diluted Latino voting strength in violation of Voting Rights Act and Fifteenth Amendment. The Court held that the city was liable for both a § 2 violation and intentional discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause in part because the city enacted the plan when Latino voters were on the cusp of electing a majority of the city council for the first time.).
    • Benavidez v. Irving Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 3:13-CV-0087-D, 2014 WL 4055366 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 15, 2014) (Latino residents challenged the Irving Independent School District’s districting scheme for electing trustees, comprised of five single-member districts and two at-large districts. Strong evidence of racial polarization supported the Court’s finding that the districting scheme violated § 2, including testimony by a former trustee that some people were uncomfortable with the growth of the Latino population within the school district as well as the stipulated fact that no Latino candidate has ever been elected in a contested election against a non-Latino.).
    • Fabela v. City of Farmers Branch, Tex., No. 3:10-CV-1425-D, 2012 WL 3135545 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 2, 2012) (Latino residents of the City of Farmers Branch challenged the at-large system of electing members to the city council under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Court’s finding of § 2 liability was supported in part by the fact that no Latino candidate has ever been elected to the city council or mayor under the at-large scheme.).
  • Virginia
    • Holloway v. City of Virginia Beach, No. 2:18-CV-69, 2021 WL 1226554 (E.D. Va. Mar. 31, 2021), appeal pending (Black residents of city brought action alleging that city’s at-large election for city council violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by diluting the voting strength of Black, Hispanic American, and Asian American voters.
    • History of official discrimination against city’s Black community following Reconstruction as well as against minority immigrant communities through housing discrimination and federal immigration laws supported finding of § 2 liability.).
  • Washington
    • Montes v. City of Yakima, 40 F. Supp. 3d 1377 (E.D. Wash. 2014) (Latino Plaintiffs brought action against city, alleging that city’s at-large system of electing members to the city council violated § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Court held that the at-large scheme prevented Latino residents from electing a candidate of their choice, in part because the city’s “numbered post system, with its effective majority vote requirement, places Latino voters at a steep mathematical disadvantage, even when their voting strength is perfectly optimized.”).
  • Wisconsin
    • Baldus v. Members of Wisconsin Gov’t Accountability Bd., 849 F. Supp. 2d 840 (E.D. Wis. 2012) (Latino Plaintiffs challenge Wisconsin legislative redistricting plan for area of Milwaukee County. Plan violated § 2 by “cracking” the Latino community into two Latino influence districts; in addition to satisfying other Gingles factors, community was sufficiently large and geographically compact to create one majority-minority district.).
  • Wyoming
    • Large v. Fremont Cty., Wyo., 709 F. Supp. 2d 1176 (D. Wyo. 2010) (Enrolled members of Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes brought action against county, members of county commission, and county clerk, in their official capacities, alleging, among other things, that county’s at-large method for county commission elections violated § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Court found § 2 violation, in part based on evidence that political campaigns in the county were characterized by overt or subtle racial appeals; and only one Native American had ever been elected to county commission.).