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Minority Voters In Worcester File Federal Voting Rights Suit Over School Committee Election

A coalition of Black and Hispanic Worcester residents filed a federal voting rights lawsuit Monday alleging the city’s at-large system for electing school committee members discriminates against minority communities.

The lawsuit alleges that the use of an at-large system for all seats on the committee dilutes the voting power of minorities, violating the federal Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution.

Despite the fact that more than half of students in Worcester identify as either Hispanic, Latino/Latina or Black, the city’s six-member school committee is all white, the suit says.

Member of the Worcester City Council, by contrast, are elected through a mix of at-large and district seats.

The lawsuit cites the 2019 election.

Six school committee candidates, all white, who received most support in the 10 whitest precincts in the city all won election, the suit alleges, while candidates of color who were supported in the city’s 10 most diverse precincts couldn't secure enough votes citywide to win.

An aide to Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus said the city is aware of the lawsuit but has a policy of not commenting on pending lawsuits.

Plaintiffs also include the Worcester branch of the NAACP.

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