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Board of Elections seeks summary judgment in Matt Wright case

AMERICUS — The Sumter County Board of Elections has filed a motion for summary judgment in the lawsuit filed by Mathis Wright. The motion was filed in federal court on Jan. 12 by Anne W. Lewis, attorney for the Board of Elections.

The motion says the Board of Elections is entitled to summary judgment because Wright’s “own expert evidence demonstrates two insurmountable obstacles of his claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act … statistical evidence offered by Plaintiff’s expert fails to show the minority community is cohesive, because a preferred candidate cannot be consistently identified.”

The second reason for summary judgment, as stated in the motion, is “ … even when a preferred candidate is identified, the evidence shows that the white community in Sumter County does not ‘usually’ vote as a bloc to defeat the minority community’s preferred candidates of choice because the candidate of choice succeeds as often as he or she fails … ”

Wright filed his lawsuit in March 2014, to stop the Sumter County Board of Education elections on March 18 and May 20. His lawsuit says the school Board should not be changed from nine members to seven, and the districts should not be made to “mimic” the Sumter County Board of Commissioners’ districts nor should there be two at-large districts. It also says the current redistricting plan, originally passed into law in 2011, is a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

There is no word yet on when the federal judge might hold a hearing on the request for summary judgment.