Robeson CountyRobeson is the most ethnically diverse rural county in the United States. It is unusual within North Carolina in that in addition to a sizeable black population, it also has a sizeable Native American population. Indeed, with 36% of the population white, 36% of the population Native American and 23% of the population black, no group can be said to be in the majority. This racial makeup is reflected in the county commission ñ an eight-member body with two African American members, three Native American members and the white members. Commissioners represent districts, and elections take place every two years.
The Board of Education of the Public Schools of Robeson County is made up of eleven members with eight elected by district and three at-large. Elections are held during the spring primary of even numbered years on a non-partisan basis. The three at large seats are elected using the one-vote system of limited voting. The intention of these seats is to allow at least one African American, one Native American and one White representative to sit on the board. There is some evidence, however, that the voting system may be imperfectly understood by certain sections of the population. A local lawyer, Cynthia Hunt, wrote a letter to Carolina Indian Voice in 2000 to clear up misconceptions. She claimed that some Native American voters were being told they could vote more than once, while others were being encouraged to split their votes between two candidates.
The only town with a population of over 5000 is Lumberton. 53.7% of Lumbertonís voting age population is white, 31.51% is black and 12.1% is African American. The city council is made up of eight council members and the mayor, who can vote only when the council is split. The council is elected in single-member districts. Three council members are currently African American.
Robesonís dispersed population and disparate communities mean that there is no obvious location for workshops within the county. The main Native American group within the county, the Lumbee, are politically organized, and could be potential allies in any drive for voting systems reform.