AB 182, as introduced, Alejo. California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
Existing law, the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA), prohibits the use of an at-large election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election. The CVRA provides that a voter who is a member of a protected class may bring an action in superior court to enforce the provisions of the CVRA, and, if the voter prevails in the case, he or she may be awarded reasonable litigation costs and attorney’s fees. The CVRA requires a court to implement appropriate remedies, including the imposition of district-based elections, that are tailored to remedy a violation of the act.
This bill would provide parallel provisions that prohibit the use of a district-based election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election. The bill would require a court to implement specified remedies upon a finding that a district-based election was imposed or applied in a manner that impaired the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
The Legislature finds and declares that the
2purpose of this act is to address ongoing vote dilution and
3discrimination in voting as matters of statewide concern, in order
4to enforce the fundamental rights guaranteed to California voters
5under Section 7 of Article I and Section 2 of Article II of the
6California Constitution. Therefore, the provisions of this act shall
7be construed liberally in furtherance of this legislative intent to
8eliminate minority vote dilution. It is the further intent of the
9Legislature that any remedy implemented under this act shall
10comply with the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The heading of Article 1 (commencing with Section
1214025) is added to Chapter 1.5 of Division 14 of the Elections
13Code, to read:
The heading of Article 2 (commencing with Section
1814027) is added to Chapter 1.5 of Division 14 of the Elections
19Code, to read:
Article 3 (commencing with Section 14040) is added
24to Chapter 1.5 of Division 14 of the Elections Code, to read:
District-based elections shall not be imposed or applied
29in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect
30candidates of its choice, or its ability to influence the outcome of
31an election, as a result of the dilution or the abridgment of the
32rights of voters who are members of a protected class.
(a) A violation of Section 14040 is established if it is
2shown that racially polarized voting occurs in elections for
3members of the governing body of the political subdivision or in
4elections incorporating other electoral choices by the voters of the
5political subdivision. Elections conducted prior to the filing of an
6action pursuant to Section 14040 and this section are more
7probative to establish the existence of racially polarized voting
8than elections conducted after the filing of the action.
9(b) The occurrence of racially polarized voting shall be
10determined from examining results of elections in which at least
11one candidate is a member of a protected class or elections
12involving ballot measures, or other electoral choices that affect
13the rights and privileges of members of a protected class. One
14circumstance that may be considered in determining a violation
15of Section 14040 and this section is the extent to which candidates
16who are members of a protected class and who are preferred by
17voters of the protected class, as determined by an analysis of voting
18behavior, have been elected to the governing body of a political
19subdivision that is the subject of an action based on Section 14040
20and this section.
21(c) The fact that members of a protected class are not
22geographically compact or concentrated does not preclude a finding
23of racially polarized voting, or a violation of Section 14040 and
24this section, but may be a factor in determining an appropriate
26(d) Proof of an intent on the part of the voters or elected officials
27to discriminate against a protected class is not required.
28(e) Other factors such as the history of discrimination, the use
29of electoral devices or other voting practices or procedures that
30may enhance the dilutive effects of the election system, denial of
31access to those processes determining which groups of candidates
32will receive financial or other support in a given election, the extent
33to which members of a protected class bear the effects of past
34discrimination in areas such as education, employment, and health,
35which hinder their ability to participate effectively in the political
36process, and the use of overt or subtle racial appeals in political
37campaigns are probative, but not necessary factors, to establish a
38violation of Section 14040 and this section.
39(f) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the fact that a
40district-based election was imposed on the political subdivision
P4 1as a result of an action filed pursuant to Article 2 shall not be a
2defense to an action alleging a violation of this article.
3(2) (A) If a court orders a political subdivision to adopt, and
4subsequently approves, a district-based election system as a result
5of an action filed pursuant to Article 2, there shall be a rebuttable
6presumption in any subsequent action filed pursuant to this article
7that the district-based election system of that political subdivision
8does not violate this article. The presumption shall apply only to
9the exact district-based election system that was approved by the
10court and shall not apply if the boundaries of the districts of the
11political subdivision are subsequently adjusted for any reason.
12(B) This paragraph shall apply only to a district-based election
13system that is approved by a court on or after January 1, 2016.
(a) Upon a finding of a violation of Section 14040 and
15Section 14041, the court shall implement appropriate remedies,
16as provided in this section, that are tailored to remedy the violation
17and that are guided in part by the views of the protected class.
18(b) (1) The court shall implement, as an appropriate remedy
19under this section, an effective district-based elections system that
20provides the protected class the opportunity to elect candidates of
21its choice from single-member districts.
22(2) If additional effective districts under paragraph (1) are not
23possible, the court shall implement, as an appropriate remedy under
24this section, a single-member district-based election system that
25provides the protected class the opportunity to join in a coalition
26of two or more protected classes to elect candidates of their choice.
27(3) In addition to implementing district-based elections under
28this subdivision, a court may implement additional remedies,
29including the remedies provided in subdivision (c).
30(c) If the remedies under subdivision (b) are not legally viable,
31the court shall implement other appropriate remedies, including,
32but not limited to, increasing the size of the governing body; issuing
33an injunction to delay an election; or requiring an election to be
34held on the same day as a statewide election, as provided in Section
In any action to enforce Section 14040 and Section
3714041, the court shall allow the prevailing plaintiff party, other
38than the state or political subdivision thereof, a reasonable
39attorney’s fee consistent with the standards established in Serrano
40v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48-49, and litigation expenses
P5 1including, but not limited to, expert witness fees and expenses as
2part of the costs. Prevailing defendant parties shall not recover any
3costs, unless the court finds the action to be frivolous,
4unreasonable, or without foundation.
Any voter who is a member of a protected class and
6who resides in a political subdivision where a violation of Sections
714040 and 14041 is alleged may file an action pursuant to those
8sections in the superior court of the county in which the political
9subdivision is located.
If any provision of this article or its application to any
11person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the article
12or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances
13shall not be affected.