State Lawmakers Vote to Expand Legal Challenges to Voting Districts
California’s state Senate gave final approval to a Los Angeles County measure that allows minority groups to challenge the way the county draws districts for elected officials. The bill will now go to Jerry Brown for consideration. If he approves it, the proposed bill will expand the Voting Rights Act in a way that will allow judges to order local governments to change district lines or alter the city council’s number of seats in order to make sure minority voting power isn’t diluted.
Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) first introduced the Senate bill (SB 1365) in order to assure “that when districts are drawn that they will be drawn consistent with the voting rights protections for historically disenfranchised communities.” The bill was met with some Republican opposition, but it passed with a 23-12 vote.
Some argued that legislation could allow groups to convince judges to force an expansion of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors in order to include more Latino members, but Padilla said this was not his main goal when introducing the bill.
Latino activists have been vocal in their stance on the county’s board, saying that at least two Latino-majority districts are necessary in order to represent the 50% of the county’s population that identifies as Latino.
Read more about the approval here.