ACLU, other groups write to Town of Federalsburg leaders regarding election system

Federalsburg, Maryland

FEDERALSBURG, Md. – Several groups are coming together against the Town of Federalsburg regarding its election system.

After a public hearing on election reform last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, the Caroline County Branch of the NAACP, the Caucus of African American Leaders, and members of the Federalsburg community have written to Town leaders to remind them of the legal issues the Town will face if it fails to reform what they say is the racially discriminatory at-large election system that has prevented any Black person from election to office in the Town’s 200-year history.

We’re told that at the January 23rd meeting, Town officials reversed course after months of promise that Town officials were working towards ending the at-large election system and undertaking a process of identifying the appropriate number of districts for a district-based system in Federalsburg.

In October of 2022, Federalsburg’s Black community testified at the Town Council meeting, overwhelmingly in support of changing the election system with Black residents stepping forward to provide heartfelt testimony describing the discriminatory impact that the at-large system has had on their lives.

The Council was reportedly expected to focus on two things at the January meeting. The first being a decision on which districting proposal best fits the Town’s needs, and secondly, charting a path forward for implementing the changes. Instead, we’re told that members of the council dismissed the feelings of Black residents and suggested that Black residents are themselves to blame for the Town’s all-white government, due to their “lack of engagement” with an election system that unlawfully discriminates against them. Officials also allegedly argued in an attempt to delegitimize a district-based solution to the discriminatory election system, contending that districts would segregate the Town and pit districts against each other based on race.

“The Town of Federalsburg must take action, and must take action urgently, to uphold the voting rights of Black residents that have been violated for far too long,” said Nick Taichi Steiner, Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Maryland. “Federalsburg’s election system has long perpetuated a racial divide, keeping Black voters and candidates out of the political life of their community. All legal options are still on the table.”

To read the full letter written to the Town of Federalsburg, click here.

Categories: Local News, Local Politics, Maryland