Historical Overview - Seven Member Commission

Seven Member Commission (June 6, 1988-November 9, 2004)

The Seven Member Commission has its roots vested in a transformation that would alter America's and the South's political landscape dramatically. In particular, as established by the Legislature in 1931, Baldwin County's "Commission form of government" required, what were termed as "at-large elections," where respective county commissioners, while elected to represent a single district, were at the same time required to run countywide or "at-large." By the General electoral cycle in 1988, the method of electing Baldwin County Commissioners would change.

In short, on June 6, 1988, the (Federal) District Court of the United States for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division, issued a "Judgment and Injunction" on a case known as Dullard, et al. v. Baldwin County Commission in which a group of citizens questioned the pure at-large system of electing county commissioners in Baldwin County.

The Federal Judge ruled in Dullard that the pure at-large system of electing county commissioners in Baldwin County violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 , as amended. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is violated when official actions are taken or maintained with a racially discriminatory intent or the action has racially discriminatory results (i.e. the group of citizens who questioned the pure at-large system of electing county commissioners did so because they believed that an at-large system made it impossible for a one segment of the citizenry to be elected to and be represented on the Baldwin County Commission).

The Federal Judge in Dullard ordered the four member Baldwin County Commission to implement a plan, for use in the 1988 General Electoral cycle and thereafter, which would increase the number of county commissioners to seven, eliminate the pure at-large system for electing county commissioners and instead institute a method known as the single-member, single-district plan for electing Baldwin County Commissioners.

The single-member, single-district plan in Baldwin County provided that each member of the seven member Baldwin County Commission was elected from a singular area (District) of the county, rather than having to run for such office county-wide.