PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Chester County disenfranchised black voters in the 2008 general election by assigning them an inadequate polling place. The five plaintiffs say they had to wait as long as 7 hours to vote: “The predictable result was unusually low voter turnout and a racially disparate impact in the precinct with the highest percentage of African-American voters in the county.”
Until 1992, the Lower Oxford East precinct polling place was at Lincoln University, a predominantly black university. Then the polling place was moved to “a small community center off-campus that is effectively inaccessible without a car.”
County officials were warned that the site could not handle the turnout for the 2008 general election, yet did nothing, according to the complaint. As a result, many voters were forced to wait in line outside in a driving, cold rain for up to seven hours, and many left without voting.
After the 2008 election, the county moved the polling place to a slightly larger facility, but even farther from Lincoln University and even less accessible, the complaint states. The plaintiffs want the polling place returned to the pre-1992 site on the Lincoln University campus, and damages for those who were forced to endure hardship to vote, or were denied the vote altogether.
The plaintiffs say the defendant Chester County Board of Elections moved the polling place after a Lincoln professor won a seat on the local school board in 1992.
The plaintiffs’ lead attorney is Phillip Wilson with DLA Piper.