Citoyenneté, démocratie, ethnicité et nationalité aux Etats-Unis
Aux Etats-Unis, le Ministère de la Justice (administration Clinton) a décidé de poursuivre le Comté de Charleston (Caroline du Sud) parce qu'il estime que le mode de scrutin y est défavorable aux Noirs. Ce comté a un système électoral de "at-large voting", c'est-à-dire que les candidats pour l'ensemble des neuf sièges y sont élus au niveau du comté, alors que la règle pour la plupart des élections américaines est celle de la circonscription uninominale à scrutin majoritaire. D'après le Ministère, ce système, combiné à un vote "racialement polarisé", diluerait le vote noir et violerait par conséquent le Voting Rights Act de 1965, l'élément-clé de la législation américaine donnant aux Noirs le même droit de vote qu'aux Blancs. (Pierre-Yves Lambert, in Suffrage Universel Magazine, janvier 2001)
Story last updated at 7:02 a.m. Thursday, June 10, 2004
Single-member voting brings surprises
Charleston County's conversion to single-member districts had some unintended consequences, for Democrats at least.
About twice as many Democratic voters showed up at the county's polls Tuesday compared with two years ago, an increase some attributed partly to the three single-member district races for County Council.
Republicans, whose Tuesday turnout was only slightly above 2002 levels, said their council races likely didn't make as much difference in their turnout as did the six-way race for a U.S. Senate seat.
"I think the numbers were more driven from the top (of the ballot) on the Republican side," county GOP Chairwoman Cyndi Mosteller said.
The day after the first single-member district elections for County Council in more than three decades, candidates and party strategists were sorting through the impact of the change.
The switch certainly inspired people to run for office. The primary saw 16 candidates fight it out. Counting those who will be on the November ballot, the council races had 21 candidates, including an unprecedented number of 12 blacks.
About 29,500 Charleston County voters, about 15 percent of all registered voters, cast ballots Tuesday. In the 2002 primaries, which featured a hotly contested GOP governor's race, about 25,500 voted.
Each of County Council's nine new single-member districts has more than 24,000 residents old enough to vote. Tuesday's biggest turnout came in District 7, a West Ashley district where 2,300 Republican voters gave incumbent Barrett Lawrimore a 57 percent to 43 percent victory over Jerome Heyward. Each of the other five primary races attracted fewer than 1,700 voters.
Two years ago, County Council races were at-large contests, meaning all county voters could vote for all nine council seats.
A U.S. District judge ruled that method discriminated against black voters and ordered a change this year to single-member districts. The county now has nine districts, including three with a black majority, and voters in each elect one member.
Two years ago, Republican council hopeful Anne Alford received 13,950 votes in the countywide GOP primary. That was almost 50 percent more votes than all 16 council hopefuls received Tuesday in their single-member district contests combined.
Charleston County Democratic Chairman Mullins McLeod was wary of such comparisons, however.
"I think it's really difficult to compare the individual council races because they've never run in single districts before," he said. "It's kind of like comparing apples and oranges."
McLeod said the three Democratic primaries in Districts 4, 5 and 8 -- combined with the popularity of U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Inez Tenenbaum -- helped lead to a significant jump in Democratic turnout. Almost 7,000 Democrats voted Tuesday in Charleston County, up from about 3,500 two years ago.
With races for U.S. Senate and state Senate seats being the highest-profile races, some could question how much attention voters were paying to the county races.
Former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington, who filed to challenge GOP incumbent Carolyn Conlon in District 5, announced two weeks ago that he was ending his candidacy. Still, he received some 288 votes, about 23 percent of the total vote Tuesday. That's more votes than received by four council candidates in other races.
Republicans Lawrimore, Conlon, Tim Scott and Curtis Bostic won their primaries in Districts 7, 5, 3 and 6, respectively, while former state Rep. Curtis Inabinett won outright over two opponents in District 8. Voters in Districts 4 and 5, which cover sections of Charleston north of Broad Street, lower North Charleston and parts of West Ashley, will return to the polls June 22 to decide runoff contests. In District 4, Henry Darby and Karen Hollinshead Brown will collide, in District 5, Teddy Pryor and Rosemarie West.
Citizens request single member districts
By: Amy Morenz 11/13/2004
A majority of the 14 citizens testifying during a lengthy Monday public hearing asked for single-member districts, but Plano council members expressed concern about their possible long-range effects.
Council members held the first of two announced public hearings Monday examining potential city charter changes. Acting as the city's charter review commission, council members questioned citizens who want single-member districts.
Single-member districts would bring a more accurate representation of Plano's minorities, said citizen Jack Sung. Twenty-five percent of Plano's 250,000 residents are minorities, with 10 percent Asian, 10 percent Hispanic and five percent African American, Sung said.
"If the council reflected the makeup in our schools, three of you would be non-white," said John Myers. "Our type of representation must change. Single member districts represent a philosophy that government is closest to the people."
Long-time single member advocate Richard Simmons described the council's position as "self serving" because council members did not appoint a 10-person panel to consider changes.
"There's a rash of details and we have been given very limited amount of time to review.
Councilman Ken Lambert said he wanted to hear directly from citizens instead of appointing a charter review committee. When the charter was changed in 1993, only two citizens recommended single member districts.
"We are sitting as the charter review commission," Lambert said. "I'd rather hear directly from the citizens."
If single member districts were considered, Plano would need additional research to determine how potential geographic areas would be drawn, said City Attorney Diane Wetherbee. Single member districts usually represent common "communities" of interesest that would need to be determined.
"It's not something you just jump into," Wetherbee said.
Plano council members repeatedly pointed to Dallas as an example of a single-member district system that doesn't work.
"I'm trying to understand what benefit there is. I have not been elected to represent just one part of the city, I make decisions for everyone in the city," said Councilman Steve Stovall, who is finishing his last term.
"We're trying to avoid where the only concern is just one part of the city," added Councilwoman Sally Magnuson. "We have to consider what benefits all of the citizens."
The council posed a series of questions on the impact of single member districts to former Councilwoman Cheryl Williams, now a zoning attorney.
Williams said she could not have completed major East Plano changes without the help of other council members. She was first council person elected to serve District 1 in East Plano.
"I'm not sure how much closer I could have been to my community," Williams said. "I could not have been as effective without the full support of the council."
Monday night was the first time council members have discussed including single member districts in proposed charter changes to bring Plano voters in May. To date, they've considered extending council terms from two to three years and increasing the number of signatures needed on petitions to recall a council member or initiate referendums.
Plano needs longer terms in order for council members to have an impact on regional and state committees, said Mayor Pat Evans. Plano's council members serve two-year terms while nearby Frisco, McKinney, Allen and Richardson serve longer periods.
"It's damaging to the city to be underrepresented at state organizations," Evans said. "We have some of the shortest terms in the area."
A few residents asked why council members are considering changing rules on signatures needed to prompt a recall or special election.
Activist Warner Richeson asked the council to consider forming a 10-person commission to review potential charger changes.
"You've been as bullheaded on this issue as I have on my side," said Richeson, who served on the council
If term limits are extended, Richeson wants them capped at two terms for three years. He also wants council members to resign if they run for public office. Richeson is a former council member.
"If you're so concerned why didn't you run?" asked Councilman Scott Johnson.
Richeson said he was busy gathering petitions resulting in the property tax freeze for senior citizens and the disabled.
Council members encouraged citizens to continue expressing their ideas through e-mails and phone calls. Those numbers can be obtained through the city's web site at http://www.planotx.org/council.html
Plano's council is scheduled to conduct a second public hearing Nov. 22 and hopes to finalize charter changes in January. The proposed changes would be Plano's first since 1993.
Contact staff writer Amy Morenz at 972-398-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citoyenneté, démocratie, ethnicité et nationalité aux Etats-Unis