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Settlement Should Help Black Candidates In Jones County

Amy Townsend

A court settlement over election districts in a rural North Carolina county should help black candidates get on the local governing board after an absence of two decades.

A national civil rights organization sued Jones County leaders and boards in February on behalf of black voters who alleged racial discrimination in how county commissioners are elected.

An agreement by the two sides in the case signed by a federal judge this week means the at-large method by which five commissioners are elected will be replaced with one in which seven commissioners are elected from specific districts.

Nearly one-third of county's residents are African American, but no black candidate has been elected to the commission since 1994. The lawsuit alleged the countywide elections violated the Voting Rights Act.

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