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Judge allows lawsuit over Anderson City Council districts to continue

A voter receives his I Voted card after casting his ballot at the Su Nueva Lavanderia near Chicago's Midway Airport Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A federal judge will allow a lawsuit hoping to overturn Anderson City Council district boundaries to proceed.  

Judge James Sweeney on Wednesday rejected a motion to dismiss the suit filed by Common Cause Indiana, the Anderson-Madison County NAACP Branch and the League of Women Voters.

The lawsuit filed in June claims the city council chose not to redraw council district boundaries after the 2020 Census.

The result, according to the lawsuit, was council districts with unequal population numbers, violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

“Continuing to allow elections to be held under this malapportioned map sends the message to voters in this community that fair representation doesn’t matter,” Larry McClendon, president of the Madison County NAACP, said in a statement last month. “We brought this challenge to ensure that the local government in Anderson gives everyone an equal vote and an equal voice in city government.”

Attorneys for the city of Anderson argued the suit should be thrown out because the plaintiffs waited nearly five months after the council’s December 11, 2022 decision on district boundaries to file suit.

“During those 143 days of inaction, Plaintiffs did nothing except watch their constituents whose interests Plaintiffs purport to represent, march to the polls to vote and cast their ballots in the May 2, 2023 Primary Election,” city attorneys wrote in an August court filing. “And then, 43 days after the May 2 2023 Primary Election, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit wherein they cry foul about the apportionment of the Anderson Council Districts using conclusory labels like ‘deviation’ ‘malapportioned’ and invoke an inflammatory prayer for relief that would have this Court enter an order ‘prohibiting racial discrimination’.”

The suit asks the judge to force the council to redraw district lines and hold special elections in 2024.