Baltimore County Voters Decry Council’s Continued Violation of Voting Rights Act
Baltimore County voters and organizations call on the county council to stop aligning itself with Jim Crow Alabama policies and stop wasting taxpayer dollars defending a redistricting plan that still violates the racial justice protections of the Voting Rights Act. Despite a federal court order to create a second majority Black district (so that Black voters can elect a candidate of their choice) the Baltimore County Council’s proposed remedial plan does not afford BIPOC voters a fair and meaningful opportunity to elect their chosen candidates, which is in direct violation of the VRA. With a voting age population that is 30% Black and 47% BIPOC, it is unacceptable for Baltimore County to continue to have 6 out of 7 councilmanic districts be majority white voters.
From LWV Baltimore County
Hi. I’m Ericka McDonald, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Baltimore County. The League calls for the Baltimore County Council to comply with the court order to create a second majority Black district. Because of the long history of racial inequality in Baltimore County, it is imperative that Black voters have the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.
During the redistricting process the Chair of the Redistricting Commission and some County Council representatives have claimed that racism is not an issue in Baltimore County. But, since the creation of District 4 in 2001, Black candidates have been elected in all 5 cycles. No other district has elected a Black candidate.
We don’t need a court order to know there’s systemic inequality in Baltimore County, which subjects Black residents to a disproportionately large number of traffic stops (in 2020, 58% were Black residents despite being 36.1% of population), incidents of police misconduct (68% of complaints were made by Black residents), and police incidents involving the use of force (65% of UOF incidents were against Black residents)
Additionally, at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, rates of students meeting benchmarks on academic achievement measures are notably lower for Black students.
And Black residents own their own homes at much lower rates (only 13% of homeowners are Black, despite being 20% of the population owning homes), have significantly lower family median incomes (over $12,000 a year less than white families), and are much more likely to live below the poverty line (only 18% of Black resident live above the poverty line vs. 77% of white residents).
These challenges faced by Black residents are the result of a long history of discriminatory laws, including voter suppression. Why do our councilmembers continue to act like they are above the law by refusing to comply with the Voting Rights Act? And why do they refuse to confront the continuing challenges of racial inequality in Baltimore County today?
We urge the County Council to accept what the people of Baltimore County have overwhelmingly asked for and what the court has mandated - a map with a second majority Black district.
Thank you. Ericka McDonald