Seven Black voters joined the Caroline County Branch of the NAACP and the Caucus of African American Leaders to file suit against Federalsburg in federal district court in Baltimore under the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. They are challenging the racially discriminatory and unlawful at-large, staggered-term election system that has kept Black people out of Federalsburg municipal government for 200 years.
This action comes against the backdrop of a long history and legacy of racial discrimination and oppression in Caroline County and across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. As a result, the lawsuit alleges, Federalsburg’s election practices and structure unlawfully conspire with patterns of racial polarization in voting to empower the Town’s white majority to override and dilute the influence of Black voters, suppress Black candidacies, and prevent Black residents from electing their chosen representatives.
The federal lawsuit asks the court to:
- Declare that Federalsburg’s at-large, staggered-term election system discriminates against Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965;
- Issue an injunction prohibiting the Town from holding elections under this unlawful system; and
- Enter an order mandating that the scheduled 2023 Federalsburg Town election, and all future elections, be conducted under a racially fair election plan, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act and all other relevant constitutional and statutory requirements.
The Caroline County Branch of the NAACP, the Caucus of African American Leaders, and the individual Black voters are represented by attorneys Daniel W. Wolff, Katie Aber and Cori Schreider of Crowell & Moring LLP, and Deborah A. Jeon and Nicholas Taichi Steiner of the ACLU of Maryland.