BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 182


                                                                    Page  1





          GOVERNOR'S VETO


          AB  
          182 (Alejo, et al.)


          As Enrolled  September 10, 2015


          2/3 vote


           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |ASSEMBLY:  |53-25 |(May 11, 2015) |SENATE: |26-14 | (September 3,   |
          |           |      |               |        |      |2015)            |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |
           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 



           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |ASSEMBLY:  |53-24 |(September 8,  |        |      |                 |
          |           |      |2015)          |        |      |                 |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |
           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 


          Original Committee Reference:  E. & R.


          SUMMARY:  Expands the California Voting Rights Act of 2001  
          (CVRA) to allow challenges to district-based elections to be  
          brought under the CVRA, as specified.  Specifically, this bill:   











                                                                     AB 182


                                                                    Page  2





          1)Prohibits district-based elections from being imposed or  
            applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected  
            class of voters to elect candidates of its choice as the  
            result of the dilution or abridgement of the rights of voters  
            who are members of a protected class.  
          2)Provides that the fact that a district-based election was  
            imposed on a political subdivision as a result of an action  
            filed pursuant to the CVRA shall not be a defense to an action  
            alleging that the district-based elections violate this bill.  
            Provides that a court-ordered district-based election system  
            that is adopted on or after January 1, 2016, as a result of an  
            action filed pursuant to the CVRA, shall be subject to a  
            rebuttable presumption that the system does not violate this  
            bill.


          3)Requires a court, upon finding that a political subdivision's  
            district-based elections violate this bill, to implement an  
            effective district-based elections system that provides the  
            protected class the opportunity to elect candidates of its  
            choice from single-member districts.  Permits the court, if it  
            is not possible to create a district plan in which the  
            protected class has the opportunity to elect candidates of its  
            choice, to order additional remedies, including, any of the  
            following:


             a)   Increasing the size of the governing body, if approved  
               by the voters in the jurisdiction; 
             b)   Approving a single-member district-based election system  
               that provides the protected class the opportunity to join  
               in a coalition of two or more protected classes to elect  
               candidates of their choice if there is a demonstrated  
               political cohesion among the protected classes;


             c)   Requiring elections for members of the governing body of  
               the political subdivision to be held on the same day as a  
               statewide election; or,








                                                                     AB 182


                                                                    Page  3







             d)   Issuing an injunction to delay an election.


          4)States that the purpose of the Legislature in enacting this  
            bill is to address ongoing vote dilution and discrimination in  
            voting as matters of statewide concern, in order to enforce  
            the fundamental rights guaranteed to California voters under  
            specified provisions of the California Constitution.  Requires  
            the provisions of this bill to be construed liberally in  
            furtherance of this legislative intent to eliminate minority  
            vote dilution.  Declares the intent of the Legislature that  
            any remedy implemented under this bill shall comply with the  
            14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Finds and  
            declares that this bill is consistent with a specified court  
            case.
          5)Contains a severability clause.


          The Senate amendments require a court, if it is considering  
          ordering that elections of a governing body be held on the same  
          day as a statewide election, to take into account the capacity  
          of the county to consolidate the election date with statewide  
          elections.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel.


          COMMENTS:  According to the author, "AB 182 will expand the  
          California Voting Rights Act of 2001 to better protect minority  
          communities across the state. Voter disenfranchisement still  
          persists today.  This measure is a means for us to protect  
          voters from being excluded and ensure that we have a working  
          democracy in California for years to come.  This bill will allow  
          challenges to district-based elections that are being imposed or  
          applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected  








                                                                     AB 182


                                                                    Page  4





          class of voters to elect candidates of their choice."


          SB 976 (Polanco), Chapter 129, Statutes of 2002, enacted the  
          CVRA to address racial block voting in at-large elections for  
          local office.  In areas where racial block voting occurs, an  
          at-large method of election can dilute the voting rights of  
          minority communities if the majority typically votes to support  
          candidates that differ from the candidates who are preferred by  
          minority communities.  In such situations, breaking a  
          jurisdiction up into districts can result in districts in which  
          a minority community can elect the candidate of its choice or  
          otherwise have the ability to influence the outcome of an  
          election.  Accordingly, the CVRA prohibits an at-large method of  
          election from being imposed or applied in a political  
          subdivision in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected  
          class of voters to elect the candidate of its choice or to  
          influence the outcome of an election, as a result of the  
          dilution or the abridgement of the rights of voters who are  
          members of the protected class.


          This bill expands the CVRA to permit challenges to be brought to  
          district-based election systems that impair the ability of a  
          protected class of voters to elect the candidates of its choice,  
          as a result of the dilution or the abridgement of the rights of  
          voters who are members of the protected class.  Challenges to  
          district-based election systems under the CVRA would be subject  
          to the same standards and procedures that currently apply to  
          challenges to at-large election systems that are brought under  
          the CVRA.  As is the case with challenges to at-large election  
          systems under the CVRA, prevailing plaintiff parties under this  
          bill would be able to recover attorney's fees, including expert  
          witness fees and expenses.  Prevailing defendant parties are not  
          able to recover costs, unless the court finds the action to be  
          frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.  


          The primary difference between challenges brought under the CVRA  








                                                                     AB 182


                                                                    Page  5





          to at-large elections and challenges brought to district-based  
          elections under this bill are the remedies that would be  
          available when a court finds that a violation exists.  While  
          existing law does not explicitly limit the remedies that a court  
          may consider in response to an at-large election system that  
          violates the CVRA, it does state that the imposition of  
          district-based elections may be an appropriate remedy for such a  
          violation.  By contrast, if a district-based election system  
          were found to violate the CVRA under the provisions of this  
          bill, the court would be required to devise a single-member  
          district-based election system that provides the protected class  
          of voters the opportunity to elect candidates of its choice from  
          single-member districts.  If a plan cannot be created that would  
          give the protected class the opportunity to elect candidates of  
          its choice, the court would be allowed to consider other  
          appropriate remedies, including increasing the size of the  
          governing body if approved by the voters of the jurisdiction,  
          creating a single-member district-based election system in which  
          a coalition of two protected classes that are politically  
          cohesive can elect the candidates of their choice, requiring  
          elections for the governing board of the political subdivision  
          to be held on the same day as a statewide election, or issuing  
          an injunction to delay an election.


          Please see the policy committee analysis for a full discussion  
          of this bill.


          GOVERNOR'S VETO MESSAGE:


          This bill would apply the rules governing at-large elections in  
          the California Voting Rights Act to challenges related to  
          district-based elections.


          I vetoed a similar bill last year, SB 1365 (Padilla), and my  
          views have not changed.  I believe the federal Voting Rights Act  








                                                                     AB 182


                                                                    Page  6





          and the California Voting Rights Act provide important and  
          sufficient safeguards to ensure that the electoral strength of  
          minority voters is protected.




          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Ethan Jones / E. & R. / (916) 319-2094  FN:  
          0002520