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Ferguson-Florissant School District opposes all proposed alternatives in voting rights case

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

The Ferguson-Florissant School District wants a federal judge to approve an election system he ruled unconstitutional in August because it diluted the power of black voters.

Despite that ruling, Ferguson-Florissant attorney Cindy Ormsby said there’s still a possibility that the judge will decide the original at-large system is best.

“Any remedy has to guarantee a better result. And none of the proposals that the plaintiffs put forward guarantee a better result,” Ormsby said.

“And if you read the judge’s decision with regard to liability, he even states in there that the current system might be the best system,” Ormsby added. “So even he left the door open.”

In a response filed Wednesday, the school district opposed all three voting methods proposed by the Missouri NAACP, the lead plaintiffs in the case.

Ormsby said the NAACP’s first choice, cumulative voting, only succeeded elsewhere in putting one black member on a majority white board.


“In Ferguson-Florissant’s situation they already have three African American board members,” Ormsby said. “And there’s no guarantee. In fact, there’s a strong possibility that with cumulative voting we would actually lose representation rather than gain.”

She said the other two systems proposed by the NAACP could also lower the number of black board members because two of the black board members live in the same precinct. The two voting proposals divide the district into geographic areas.

Judge Rodney Sippel has said he plans to choose a voting system prior to candidate filing in December.

Follow Camille on Twitter: @cmpcamille.

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