Why Are We Changing?

  • Next year’s election for Jefferson County Board of Education members will be different from previous years’ elections.  The new process will ensure a more fair and equitable approach to elections.

    Places 1 through 4 will now be elected in single-member districts (as shown on the map on page 3).  Previously, those seats were selected at-large by voters across the entire school district.  

    So what does this change mean for voters?  In previous elections, voters in the Jefferson County school district cast ballots in all school board elections every two years.  Beginning in 2022, voters will only vote for a candidate from their district.  This election will happen every six years.

    “So why is this happening?  Well, simply put, this will make the election process fairer and will help ensure that all voters have a voice on election day,” said Dr. Walter Gonsoulin, Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools. 

    The changes were precipitated by a challenge to the at-large voting framework brought by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, and other plaintiffs who alleged that the at-large election structure was not in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.  The relief requested was to change those at-large districts to single-member districts.

    “Fighting this necessary change would have most certainly resulted in costly litigation.  But more than that, the board agreed that single-member districts made sense and enhanced the impact of each person’s vote,” said Gonsoulin.  “Single-member districts are the norm for elected bodies in places like Jefferson County, with its diversity in geography and community.  The Jefferson County Commission and many cities, including Birmingham, Irondale, and Leeds, use single-member districts.  Our board viewed the change as welcome and voted unanimously to go to single-member districts.”

    Read the Full Press Release