English, et al. v. Chester County

African-American students deprived of right to vote by inadequate polling place

Court/Assoc.: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Attorneys/Firms: Phil Wilson, John E. McKeever and Nicole Edwards (DLA Piper LLP [US]); Michael Churchill (Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia); Mary Catherine Roper (ACLU of Pennsylvania); Bryan Sells (ACLU Voting Rights Project); and Marian Schneider, Esq.

Several civil liberties groups, including the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, filed a federal lawsuit on January 20, 2010, on behalf of African-American residents and Lincoln University students in Chester County, asserting that the County Board of Elections and Department of Voter Services have deprived African-Americans in Lower Oxford East Township of their right to vote by assigning them to inconvenient and inadequate polling facilities. Community members had warned county officials that the existing polling place could not handle the anticipated record number of voters. On Election Day 2008, hundreds of Lower Oxford East voters - most of them African American - waited up to seven hours in the pouring rain to cast their votes. Those who were unable to wait left without voting.

The suit asked the court to order Chester County to return the Lower Oxford East polling place to the Lincoln University campus, authorize federal elections monitors, and award damages to residents who faced extreme difficulties or were prevented from voting in the 2008 general election.

A settlement was reached in August 2010.

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