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Local Georgia at-large voting in question

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April 23, 2012

Georgia

ATLANTA, Georgia: In the city of Dalton, Georgia, voting of council members at-large has been brought into question by the director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, Jerry Gonzalez. Currently, the city is divided into four districts and while a candidate must live in the designated district they are running for, the entire city votes on who will represent each district. Gonzalez has brought into question the legality of the system, noting that this style of voting hinders Hispanic representation in the city as residents in larger districts have more say in who gets elected into office.

Gonzalez recommended at a recent meeting that the laws should be changed so that officials in the specified district get elected only by the residents in their district. Also, with members being elected directly by their district residents, they would be more accountable to those who vote them into office. Members of the city council have countered Gonzalez's statements, noting that the system of voting has to go through review from the federal Justice Department every ten years because of the Voting Rights Act and no issues have been brought up from the Department.[1]

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