Virginia Beach to appeal federal court ruling that city's voting system is illegal, denies minorities equal access

Seeks residents' opinions on voting system
Gavel generic
Posted at 5:36 PM, May 26, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The City of Virginia Beach is moving forward to file an appeal in the Holloway vs. City of Virginia Beach voting rights case.

Virginia Beach residents, Latasha Holloway and Georgia Allen, both African Americans filed a lawsuit on the city's voting system. Previously, the city's voting system has allowed all voters across the city to elect city council and school board members regardless of where they live.

A federal judge ruled that Virginia Beach’s election method is illegal and cannot be enforced in the future. The judge ruled that the city's at-large voting system "denies Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians equal access to the electoral and political process in violation of section two of the Voting Rights Act."

Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer released a statement following the district court's decision.

"Despite our best efforts, the parties in the Holloway vs. City of Virginia Beach case have been unable to achieve a mutually agreeable settlement. The City is therefore proceeding with an appeal of the district court’s decision, which will be filed with the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in June," Mayor Dyer says.

The mayor says the city's position in the ruling is that Virginia Beach believes the plaintiffs' case fails to show that any single minority group is sufficiently large or compact to constitute a majority within any single voting district.

According to Mayor Dyer, the city also says that plaintiffs cannot overcome this defect in their case by combining Black voters with Asian and Hispanic voters because the law does not authorize combining minority groups to state a claim under Section 2 and because all three minorities in Virginia Beach do not vote cohesively as one political group.

The court asked both parties to propose remedies for the future of the city's election system no later than July 1.

While the district court (or an appellate court) will ultimately decide what system may be used for future City Council elections, Mayor Dyer says the City will be participating actively in the remedy phase of the case.

As part of the City's participation in the remedial phase, the City Council says they would like to hear from residents about which election systems and principles they prefer and why during one of two public hearings scheduled for June 8 and June 15.

All meetings will be held in Suite 5 of the Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th Street.

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