The maps secures fair representation in Starke City Commission elections for the next decade
Starke, Fla. – Late Wednesday, a federal judge granted a request to approve a new map for Starke City Commission districts, amending a consent decree in a Voting Rights Act lawsuit brought by the NAACP and Black community leaders in the 1980s. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida represents the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and a class of all Black Starke residents, led by Bradford County Commissioner Carolyn B. Spooner, in the class-action case.
Over the past months, the City Commission, the ACLU of Florida, and community leaders worked together to develop a new redistricting map that protects Black voters’ ability to participate in city politics and ensures equal representation for all residents. The City Commission map had not been redrawn until this year – the first time since the city entered into the original consent decree in 1989. As populations shifted in the intervening decades, the five commission districts became very unequal in population, undermining residents’ right to equal representation.
“Court approval means Starke can proceed with its new map in the 2022 elections,” said Nicholas Warren, staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. “This redistricting restores equal representation and fulfills the city’s obligations to its Black residents under the Voting Rights Act.”
“The redistricting process brought commissioners and community members together to reach a consensus on a map that best serves the people of Starke,” said Starke Mayor Janice Mortimer. “While change isn’t always easy, this map moves us forward and brings the city back in line with the law and Constitution.”
The new map will be used in this year’s elections, which will be the first since the City Commission voted to move its elections from odd years. The move is expected to increase turnout and expand access.
The city and plaintiffs’ joint motion to modify the judgment in Bradford County Branch of the NAACP v. City of Starke can be found here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/naacp-v-city-starke-motion-modify-judgement
Federal District Judge Marcia Morales Howard’s order granting the motion and approving the map can be found here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/naacp-v-city-starke-order-granting-motion-modify5-5-24