John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 6, 2013, 2:41pm

HOUSTON - A group of citizens pursues legal action against the Lone Star College System and its board of trustees over an election scheme they believe is problematic.

Recent court papers filed June 4 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas argue that the defendants' at-large scheme disenfranchises minority voters.
The college system's board has nine members who are elected at-large.

The lawsuit shows 32 per cent of Latino Americans and 16 per cent of African Americans are among the Lone Star College System's population of 1,780,850, but despite the figures and a huge enrollment of minority students, "there is a lack of proportional representation by minority supported candidates."

According to the original petition, no Latino candidate has ever been elected to the board while a few black candidates have earned a seat.

In a recent contest, an African American board chair lost while an Anglo-supported candidate prevailed, the suit says.

The plaintiffs assert the current scheme "has the effect of preventing African American and Latino citizens from electing and retaining the candidates of their choice."

"The at-large election scheme was developed with the purpose, and has the effect, of minimizing and reducing the voting strength of minority populations in the Lone Star College System voting area," the original petition says.

It adds the plan violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the Constitution in that the complainants and minority voters "are denied an equal opportunity to participate effectively in the political process."

A declaratory judgment is sought.

Attorney Chad W. Dunn of Brazil & Dunn in Houston is representing the plaintiffs.

Case No. 4:13-CV-1635

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