MONDAY, February 26: Federal Trial Begins in Challenge to Discriminatory Voting System in Dodge City, Kansas

Esmie Tseng, ACLU of Kansas, 913-484-6270, [email protected]
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU National, 347-514-3984, [email protected]
Alberto Lammers, UCLA Voting Rights Project, 310-562-2284, [email protected],

A federal trial is scheduled to begin this Monday, February 26, in Coca v. City of Dodge City, a lawsuit filed in December 2022 challenging the at-large method of elections for City Commission in Dodge City, Kansas.

Dodge City, which is located in Ford County in southwest Kansas, is not divided into multiple voting districts for City Commission. Rather, members of the commission are elected “at large,” meaning they are elected by voters from across the entire city. This system unlawfully dilutes the vote of Latine residents.

Latine residents comprise 65% of Dodge City’s total population, 59% of its voting-age population, and 46% of its citizen voting-age population.

Despite growing quickly over time, the Latine population is underrepresented on the commission because the city’s white population has largely voted as a bloc against their preferred candidates. Expert analysis of elections from 2014 and 2022 provided to the court found clear evidence that Hispanic-preferred candidates receive significantly higher support from Hispanics but perform poorly with white voters, typically costing those candidates the election.

Historically, at-large voting districts worked to reinforce suppression of racial minorities and the working class across the United States.

Their impacts are seen in present-day inequalities in income and poverty, educational attainment, housing, health indicators, and other socio-demographic measures.

The lawsuit cites violations of the Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Kansas, UCLA Voting Rights Project, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP represent the two plaintiffs in this case.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Eric Melgren will preside over the trial.

Trial begins Monday, February 26, at 9 a.m., and will last five days.

Attorneys will be available for comment throughout the trial.

U.S. District Court
401 N. Market
Wichita, Kansas

COURT INFORMATION: https://ksd.uscourts.gov/


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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.