AB 182, as amended, 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 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. 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.
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.
11 The Legislature also finds and declares that this act is consistent
12with the decision of the Court of Appeal in Sanchez v. City of
13Modesto (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 660.
The heading of Article 1 (commencing with Section
1514025) is added to Chapter 1.5 of Division 14 of the Elections
16Code, to read:
The heading of Article 2 (commencing with Section
2114027) is added to Chapter 1.5 of Division 14 of the Elections
22Code, to read:
Article 3 (commencing with Section 14040) is added
27to Chapter 1.5 of Division 14 of the Elections Code, to read:
District-based elections shall not be imposed or applied
4in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect
5candidates of its choice as a result of the dilution or the abridgment
6of the rights of voters who are members of a protected class.
(a) A violation of Section 14040 is established if it is
8shown that racially polarized voting occurs in elections for
9members of the governing body of the political subdivision or in
10elections incorporating other electoral choices by the voters of the
11political subdivision. Elections conducted prior to the filing of an
12action pursuant to Section 14040 and this section are more
13probative to establish the existence of racially polarized voting
14than elections conducted after the filing of the action.
15(b) The occurrence of racially polarized voting shall be
16determined from examining results of elections in which at least
17one candidate is a member of a protected class or elections
18involving ballot measures, or other electoral choices that affect
19the rights and privileges of members of a protected class. One
20circumstance that may be considered in determining a violation
21of Section 14040 and this section is the extent to which candidates
22who are members of a protected class and who are preferred by
23voters of the protected class, as determined by an analysis of voting
24behavior, have been elected to the governing body of a political
25subdivision that is the subject of an action based on Section 14040
26and this section.
27(c) The fact that members of a protected class are not
28geographically compact or concentrated does not preclude a finding
29of racially polarized voting, or a violation of Section 14040 and
30this section, but may be a factor in determining an appropriate
32(d) Proof of an intent on the part of the voters or elected officials
33to discriminate against a protected class is not required.
34(e) Other factors such as the history of discrimination, the use
35of electoral devices or other voting practices or procedures that
36may enhance the dilutive effects of the election system, denial of
37access to those processes determining which groups of candidates
38will receive financial or other support in a given election, the extent
39to which members of a protected class bear the effects of past
40discrimination in areas such as education, employment, and health,
P4 1which hinder their ability to participate effectively in the political
2process, and the use of overt or subtle racial appeals in political
3campaigns are probative, but not necessary factors, to establish a
4violation of Section 14040 and this section.
5(f) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the fact that a
6district-based election was imposed on the political subdivision
7as a result of an action filed pursuant to Article 2 shall not be a
8defense to an action alleging a violation of this article.
9(2) (A) If a court orders a political subdivision to adopt, and
10subsequently approves, a district-based election system as a result
11of an action filed pursuant to Article 2, there shall be a rebuttable
12presumption in any subsequent action filed pursuant to this article
13that the district-based election system of that political subdivision
14does not violate this article. The presumption shall apply only to
15the exact district-based election system that was approved by the
16court and shall not apply if the boundaries of the districts of the
17political subdivision are subsequently adjusted for any reason.
18(B) This paragraph shall apply only to a district-based election
19system that is approved by a court on or after January 1, 2016.
(a) Upon a finding of a violation of Sections 14040
21and 14041, the court shall implement an effective district-based
22elections system that provides the protected class the opportunity
23to elect candidates of its choice from single-member districts.
24(b) If additional effective districts under subdivision (a) are not
25possible without increasing the size of the governing body, or will
26not alone provide an appropriate remedy, the court may order
27additional remedies, including any of the following:
28(1) Incrementally increasing the size of the governing body
29upon approval of voters in the jurisdiction.
30(2) Approving a single-member district-based election system
31that provides the protected class the opportunity to join in a
32coalition of two or more protected classes to elect candidates of
33their choice if there is demonstrated political cohesion among the
35(3) Requiring elections of the governing body to be held on the
36same day as a statewide election, as provided in Section
begin delete 1001.end delete
40(4) Issuing an injunction to delay an election.
In any action to enforce Sections 14040 and 14041, the
2court shall allow the prevailing plaintiff party, other than the state
3or political subdivision thereof, a reasonable attorney’s fee
4consistent with the standards established in Serrano v. Priest (1977)
520 Cal.3d 25, 48-49, and litigation expenses including, but not
6limited to, expert witness fees and expenses as part of the costs.
7Prevailing defendant parties shall not recover any costs, unless the
8court finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without
Any voter who is a member of a protected class and
11who resides in a political subdivision where a violation of Sections
1214040 and 14041 is alleged may file an action pursuant to those
13sections in the superior court of the county in which the political
14subdivision is located.
If any provision of this article or its application to any
16person or circumstance is held invalid, Articles 1, 2 and the
17remainder of this article, or the application of the provision to other
18persons or circumstances, shall not be affected.