The ACLU of Missouri has launched an effort to educate voters about the new voting system in Ferguson-Florissant school board election on Tuesday, April 2.

This voter education effort includes canvassing throughout the Ferguson-Florissant School District, a direct mail campaign, and a candidate forum with several community partners.

The voter education program and candidate forum will be held 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 at Greater Grace Family Church, 3690 Pershall Rd. in Ferguson. The ACLU of Missouri will host the forum in partnership with the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP, iHeart Media and The St. Louis American.

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.

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.

At the time of ACLU of Missouri’s 2014 lawsuit, there was one lack 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.

“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,” said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri. “With a new electoral system in place that is in line with the Voting Rights Act, the voices of all residents will be heard.”

The ACLU will also canvass in the school district to let voters about the changes they’ll see on their ballots.

“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.”

For more information about the event and cumulative voting, visit www.fergflovotes.com.

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