Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the most powerful tool available to confront unlawful racial gerrymandering and other forms of vote dilution. A frequent target of Section 2 suits are local government bodies that are elected on an at-large basis using a winner-take-all method, such as block voting or numbered posts. Methods like these allow a bare majority of voters to claim all the seats on an elected body. When at-large, winner-take-all voting methods are used in communities that engage in racially-polarized voting, minority groups can be shut out of government entirely.
Adopting single-winner districts is the typical remedy in these cases but fair representation methods, like cumulative or limited voting, are frequently used as well. These fair representation methods (sometimes called “modified at-large” methods) have several advantages over single-winner districts: they can secure representation for communities that cannot be easily drawn into majority-minority districts, they may offer communities the opportunity to elect candidates of choice in closer proportion to their share of the population, and they avoid the often-lengthy and politically-contentious process of districting. Federal courts have used fair representation methods as remedies in Section 2 cases for decades and California state courts are increasingly looking to those methods as remedies in California Voting Rights Act cases, its state law equivalent to the federal Voting Rights Act.
FairVote has compiled this database of lawsuits resulting in fair representation remedies to assist scholars and practitioners interested in alternative remedies for vote dilution claims.