What Is the California Voter Rights Act?
The California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) expands on the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for minority groups in California to prove that their votes are being diluted in “at-large” elections.
What is the intent of CVRA?
There was concern that the at-large election process does not provide minorities and protected classes with the opportunity to elect their candidates of choice. CVRA makes it easier for minority groups to sue governments that use at-large elections on the grounds that they dilute the strength of minority votes.
What are “district” elections?
The City would be divided into districts. Voters within each district would vote to elect one council member to represent their district. If more minorities live within a particular district, they have greater influence on elections, especially for the council member representing that district. The mayor would continue to be elected “at large.”
What is an “at large” election?
City council members are currently elected “at large.” That means all voters vote for all the council members who then provide city-wide representation.
Why is there a need to change to district Elections?
At-large elections are being challenged as a violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). Current, 13 out of 18 cities in San Diego County have switched to district voting. National City is only 1 out of 5 remaining cities and has the largest concentration of Filipino-Americans in the County, approaching 20%.
Has city of National City been sued?
At this point, no. Other cities that have been sued and have been forced to pay hefty settlements.
A few examples include:
• Palmdale: $4.5 million
• Modesto: $3 million
• Anaheim: $1.1 million
• Whittier: $1 million
• Santa Barbara: $600,000
• Tulare Hospital: plaintiff attorneys paid $500,000
• Madera Unified: plaintiff attorneys asked for $1.8 million, but received about $170,000
• Hanford Joint Union Schools: $118,000
• Merced City: $42,000
What happens if the national city council do not adopt an ordinance to a district voting?
The City could be sued. Only Palmdale has gone to trial on the merits of at-large elections and lost. The court ordered Palmdale to convert to district elections. Palmdale ended up paying $4.5 million in legal fees to city and plaintiff’s attorneys.
How will the districts be drawn?
Like how districting in other cities, the county and the state, it is an open and transparent process. A public process will begin to draw the maps. Public meetings will be held to explain the guidelines for drawing a map.
What redistricting principles are used?
• Include communities of interest
• Be compact
• Be contiguous
• Have visible (natural and man-made) boundaries
• Include respect for past voter selections
• Plan for future growth
How do we define Neighborhoods and Communities of interest?
A community of interest is a neighborhood or community that would benefit from being maintained in a single district because of shared interests, views or characteristics.