Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 1.1. Rights of Voters
9/25/2021

§ 24.2-130. At-large method of election; limitations; violations; remedies. (2021 updated section)

A. An at-large method of election, including one that combines at-large elections with district- or ward-based elections, shall not be imposed or applied by the governing body of any locality in a manner that impairs the ability of members of a protected class, as defined in § 24.2-125, to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election, as a result of the dilution or the abridgement of the rights of voters who are members of a protected class.

B. A violation of subsection A is established if it is shown that racially polarized voting occurs in local elections and that this, in combination with the method of election, dilutes the voting strength of members of a protected class. For purposes of this subsection, "racially polarized voting" refers to the extent to which the candidate preferences of members of the protected class and other voters in the jurisdiction have differed in recent elections for the office at issue and other offices in which the voters have been presented with a choice between candidates who are members of the protected class and candidates who are not members of the protected class. A finding of racially polarized voting or a violation of subsection A shall not be precluded by the fact that members of a protected class are not geographically compact or concentrated in a locality. Proof of an intent on the part of voters or elected officials to discriminate against members of a protected class shall not be required to prove a violation of subsection A.

C. Any voter who is a member of a protected class, as defined in § 24.2-125, and who resides in a locality where a violation of this section is alleged shall be entitled to initiate a cause of action in the circuit court of the county or city in which the locality is located. In such action, the court may, in its discretion, allow a private plaintiff a reasonable attorney fee as part of the costs, if such plaintiff is the prevailing party.

D. Upon a finding of a violation of this section, the court shall implement appropriate remedies that are tailored to remedy the violation.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 528, 533.