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California Voting Rights Act

Redistricting Services Provided by LGDR:

  • Assist with development of a plan for the redistricting process.
  • Determine how the jurisdiction’s population has changed since 2000 and assess whether the current election district plan meets one person, one vote, Voting Rights Act, and other requirements; provide a written report.
  • Develop and revise plans that best meet legal requirements (guided by our extensive experience with districting and redistricting) and take into account other jurisdictional and election precinct boundaries when possible; provide documentation.
  • Attend meetings with staff/board/citizens' committee; assist with public outreach, including materials for the public and the jurisdiction’s website.
  • Document adopted plan, including block equivalency file and maps; provide information that the Registrar of Voters needs to implement plan.
  • Submit Preclearance materials to the U.S. Department of Justice (if required).

Important Information about the 2010 Census Redistricting Process:

What is redistricting?
Redistricting is the adjustment of boundaries of trustee areas or election districts within a jurisdiction that may be necessary after each decennial U.S. Census because of population changes.  This applies to the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislatures, and local jurisdictions, including community college districts, K-12 school districts, county boards of education and supervisors, city councils, water district boards, hospital district boards, and boards of other types of special districts.  The primary purpose of redistricting is to insure that the election districts have equal population sizes and that other legal requirements are met.

When will the data for evaluating and adjusting districts become available? 
The Census Bureau released all redistricting data by  April 1, 2011.  It has also released electronic versions of maps needed for redistricting.

Is it possible that election district boundaries will not need to be adjusted?
It is possible that an analysis of Census 2010 data will show that no boundary adjustments are required.  Such an analysis is most likely to show that old boundaries are valid if a jurisdiction has had little population or housing growth and there has been little change its racial/ethnic mix since 2000.

What are the federal requirements for redistricting?
There are two federal requirements for redistricting: the “one person, one vote” requirement; and the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act (see below). 

What is the "one person, one vote" legal requirement?
The "one person, one vote" requirement is that election districts should be nearly equal in their total populations.  The definition of “nearly equal” varies by type of jurisdiction. The population of an area is defined by the latest U.S. Census count.  Note that children, as well as non-citizens, including undocumented individuals, are to be counted as part of the total population, as long as they were counted in the decennial Census. Prison inmates (convicted felons serving their sentences) may be excluded under some circumstances.

What does the Voting Rights Act require?
The federal Voting Rights Act is intended to protect the voting power of certain classes, such as ethnic/racial/language minority groups.  If the population of a protected class is sufficiently large, geographically compact, and politically cohesive, the law says that boundaries should be drawn so that members of the group can elect representatives of their choice.  For the purposes of redistricting, the protected classes today include African Americans, Asian Americans, native Hawaiians, Latinos/Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and perhaps language minority groups.

What does the California Voting Rights Act require?
The California Voting Rights Act affects jurisdictions that elect representatives at-large; it is not relevant for those that already elect by single-member district (each official is elected only by voters in a specific sub-area of the jurisdiction).  This Act was adopted in 2002, and the implications of its provisions are still being clarified in the courts.  Jurisdictions that elect at-large risk litigation under this Act.    

What is Preclearance and which jurisdictions are required to provide it?
Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act requires that the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia "preclear" or approve any changes in election practices or boundaries before they may be implemented.  Covered jurisdictions include all those within California’s Kings, Merced, Monterey, and Yuba Counties. The jurisdiction must establish that the proposed change does not have a retrogressive purpose (that it does not reduce the power of groups protected under the Voting Rights Act to elect representatives of their choice).

See http://www.justice.gov/crt/voting/sec_5/about.php for additional information.

What are traditional redistricting criteria?
Often a jurisdiction’s statutes require that it follow traditional redistricting criteria that may include:  

·          Maintaining communities of interest;

·          Using identifiable geographic boundaries;

·          Drawing election districts that are compact and contiguous;

·          Basing the new plan on existing districts to the extent possible;

·          Keeping incumbent elected officials in their own districts; and/or

·          Using existing voting precincts when possible. 

How many alternative plans should be developed?
A single draft plan that meets requirements can be presented and then revised in response to suggestions from the jurisdiction’s officials or the public, or both.  Mapping/redistricting software makes it possible to generate a variety of plans, although generally the number should be kept to a minimum to avoid confusion.

What are the deadlines for completing the redistricting process?
There is usually a statutory deadline by which an assessment of compliance with one person, one vote, and Voting Rights Act requirements, as well as any necessary revision of election districts, must be completed.  For example, for California public school districts, the state Education Code required completion by March 1, 2012.  For California’s county supervisorial districts and General Law cities, redistricting had to be completed by November 1, 2011.  Our agreement to do your work will include a deadline that meets the appropriate requirement.  Jurisdictions that choose to change from at-large elections to single-member district elections face no legislative deadline.

How much will redistricting services cost?
Costs depend upon whether boundaries need to be realigned, the number of plans that are developed, and the number of meetings required.  For further information about a particular jurisdiction, please contact us.

About LGDR's Redistricting Experience:

Lapkoff & Gobalet’s staff members are experts in the use of Census data.  We understand the technical, legal, and political aspects of redistricting. We are committed professionals who believe our role is to be objective providers of necessary information.  Our personal styles are suited to consensus building, and we have helped disparate parties agree on districting plans that met one person, one vote, Federal Voting Rights Act, and California Voting Rights Act criteria. We work with county and city planners, elected officials, citizens’ task forces, and the Registrar of Voters during development and implementation of redistricting plans. 

We provided demographic support during many post-1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 U.S. Census political districting and redistricting projects. We provided demographic and geographic information for decision-making by boards and community groups. We contributed to preclearance documentation (when required) for the United States Department of Justice. Each of these projects was politically sensitive, and we worked with incumbents, staff members, and the public to achieve consensus. Redistricting clients Census included:

Alisal Union School District
Cerritos Community College District

Chabot-Las Positas Community College District

City of Hollister

City of Salinas

City of Santa Clara
Menifee Union School District

Hartnell Community College District

Kerman Unified School District

Monterey County Board of Education

Monterey County Board of Supervisors

Monterey Peninsula College

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District

North Monterey County Unified School District
Perris Union High School District

Salinas City School District

Salinas Union High School District

San Jacinto Unified  School District

San Jose Unified School District

San Jose/Evergreen Community College District

State Center Community College District

Stockton Unified School District

Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District

West Hills Community College District

West Valley-Mission Community College District

LGDR’s recent redistricting work also involved demographic support for preclearance submissions to the United States Department of Justice and demographic analyses connected with specific voting rights cases. Those projects include:

             Rosalinda Avita, et at. v. Tulare Local Healthcare District, et al.
             Valladolid v. San Diego County  
             United States of America v. Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District

      Lopez, et al v. Monterey County, et al.


References for our redistricting work will be provided upon request.


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