PLEASANT GROVE, Ala (WIAT) — This year, the 2020 election ballot in the Pleasant Grove municipal election will look different.
After a lawsuit was filed by the NAACP, the city and the group agreed to have cumulative voting. Cumulative voting gives each resident five votes to allocate however they want among the city council candidates. They can decide to give all fives votes to one candidate or split them up. In the end, the candidates who receive the top-five most votes in the election will be declared the winners.
In the lawsuit, the NAACP’s attorneys argued that the old way of voting for city council silenced Black voters by preventing them from electing the candidate of their choice.
Originally, when residents voted for council members in Pleasant Grove, they voted “at-large” meaning city residents could vote for each seat on the council, rather than their respective districts. Pleasant Grove Mayor Jerry Brasseale said he was shocked when the lawsuit happened, but hopes the city can move forward.
“I’m a guy that believes in honesty. I have no idea how this will turn out. We’ve visited a couple of other places. One was Chilton County where this is how they vote and another city in northeast Alabama, and we talked to them and they said nothing really changed but obviously this time there will be change by the numbers running and there will be a change because we don’t have too many present council members running again,” Brasseale said.
Running against Brasseale is Pleasant Grove resident Robert Sellers. Sellers said he thinks we will see a change in this election.
“In my opinion, I think over the years Pleasant Grove had been predominantly Caucasian and it was almost impossible for an African American to be elected in city and get a seat in city government. As a result, over the years African Americans ran but would not able to get the vote out. Through change as more African Americans came to Pleasant Grove, and I think statistics show are the majority, so I think the change was slow but by the time the change came to be, as a result of lawsuit and all those things, the ratio changed but I think it’s a change in the right direction,” Sellers said.
The election will be held on Aug. 25.
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