Now that election season has subsided, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials is hoping for a quick resolution to the concerns it expressed over Gainesville’s at-large voting system.
But City Council members see the system as working.
In August, GALEO’s legal representation, Federal & Hasson, sent a letter to James E. “Bubba” Palmour, the city’s attorney, stating the current system of electing council members “diminishes and dilutes” Latinos’ ability to elect “Latino-preferred candidates.”
The group also thinks the at-large process could be in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“At-large voting processes have been undone by litigation in many jurisdictions across the county,” said Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO’s executive director. “We believe the city of Gainesville is not in compliance with the Voting Rights Act and we want to work to eliminate the at-large voting process with the City Council cooperatively.”
According to Palmour, Robert M. Brinson of the law firm Brinson, Askew, Berry, Seigler, Richardson & Davis, LLP in Rome has been retained to head the talks for the city.
Brinson, Palmour said, was the city’s attorney when similar litigation arose in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Gainesville prevailed in court then when residents said the at-large voting system disenfranchised black voters under the Voting Rights Act.