School the Vote Campaign Seeks to Engage and Educate Voters
ST. LOUIS -- The ACLU of Missouri has launched an effort to educate voters about the new voting system in April’s Ferguson-Florissant School Board election.
This voter education effort includes canvassing throughout the Ferguson-Florissant School District, a direct mail campaign, and a candidate forum with several community partners, including the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP.
For years, the Ferguson-Florissant School District’s voting system diluted the voice of Black residents. In 2014, ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit on behalf of several residents and the NAACP against the Ferguson-Florissant School District. As a result, a federal court found the district in violation of the Voting Rights Act and ordered the district to implement a fairer voting system.
This system, called cumulative voting, gives minority groups an equal opportunity to gain representation in government. Voters will use this system on April 2 to elect two members to the school board.
“We’re glad the court stepped in to remedy this moral injustice in the Ferguson-Florissant School District,” said Nimrod Chapel, president of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP. “African-Americans must come out and vote to make sure that the district adequately responds to the needs of our community.”
On Election Day, voters can cast two votes for Ferguson-Florissant School Board candidates. Voters may cast both votes for one candidate, or split them by giving one vote each to two different candidates.
“Now, the focus can be where it needed to be all along: a Ferguson-Florissant School Board that is responsive to the needs of the community. With a new electoral system in place that is in line with the Voting Rights Act, the voices of all residents will be heard,” said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri.
At the time of ACLU of Missouri’s 2014 lawsuit, there was one Black member on the seven-member school board, despite African-Americans representing more than 80 percent of the district’s student population. Now, with cumulative voting, Ferguson-Florissant’s minority groups will have meaningful opportunities to elect candidates of their choice and have a school board that is responsive to the community.
The ACLU of Missouri, in partnership with the St. Louis American, the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, and iHeart Media, is hosting a voter education program and candidate forum on March 26 from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Greater Grace Family Church, 3690 Pershall Road, Ferguson, MO 63135.
The ACLU will also canvass in the school district to let voters about the changes they’ll see on their ballots.
Find more information about the event and cumulative voting at www.fergflovotes.com.