Amended in Assembly April 7, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 277


Introduced by Assembly Member Roger Hernández

February 11, 2015


An act to amend Section 14026 of the Elections Code, relating to elections.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 277, as amended, Roger Hernández. 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 and who resides in a political subdivision where a violation of the act occurs may bring an action in superior court to enforce its provisions. 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. The CVRA defines “political subdivision” to mean a geographic area of representation created for the provision of government services, including, but not limited to, a city, a school district, a community college district, or other district organized pursuant to state law. The state courts have determined that the provisions of the CVRA apply to a charter city.

This bill would amend the CVRA’s definition of “political subdivision” to expressly include a charter city, charter county, or charter city and county. The bill would also state that it is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this bill to codify the holding of the state courts regarding the applicability of the CVRA to charter cities.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

The Legislature finds and declares all of the
2following:

3(a) The dilution of votes of a protected class is a matter of
4statewide concern.

5(b) The provisions of the California Voting Rights Act are
6reasonably related to the issue of vote dilution and constitute a
7narrowly-drawn remedy that does not unnecessarily interfere with
8municipal governance.

9(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the California Voting
10Rights Actbegin delete shallend delete apply to charter cities, charter counties, and charter
11cities and counties.

12(d) It is further the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act
13to codify the holding in Jauregui v. City of Palmdale (2014) 226
14Cal.App.4th 781.

15

SEC. 2.  

Section 14026 of the Elections Code is amended to
16read:

17

14026.  

As used in this chapter:

18(a) “At-large method of election” means any of the following
19methods of electing members to the governing body of a political
20subdivision:

21(1) One in which the voters of the entire jurisdiction elect the
22members to the governing body.

23(2) One in which the candidates are required to reside within
24given areas of the jurisdiction and the voters of the entire
25jurisdiction elect the members to the governing body.

26(3) One which combines at-large elections with district-based
27elections.

28(b) “District-based elections” means a method of electing
29members to the governing body of a political subdivision in which
30the candidate must reside within an election district that is a
31divisible part of the political subdivision and is elected only by
32voters residing within that election district.

P3    1(c) “Political subdivision” means a geographic area of
2representation created for the provision of government services,
3including, but not limited to, a general law city, general law county,
4charter city, charter county, charter city and county, a school
5district,begin delete aend delete community college district, or other district organized
6pursuant to state law.

7(d) “Protected class” means a class of voters who are members
8of a race, colorbegin insert,end insert or language minority group, as this class is
9referenced and defined in the federal Voting Rights Actbegin delete (42 U.S.C.
10Sec. 1973 et seq.).end delete
begin insert ( 52 U.S.C. Sec. 10301 et seq.).end insert

11(e) “Racially polarized voting” means voting in which there is
12a difference, as defined in case law regarding enforcement of the
13federal Voting Rights Actbegin delete (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1973 et seq.),end deletebegin insert ( 52 U.S.C.
14Sec. 10301 et seq.),end insert
in the choice of candidates or other electoral
15choices that are preferred by voters in a protected class, and in the
16choice of candidates and electoral choices that are preferred by
17voters in the rest of the electorate. The methodologies for
18estimating group voting behavior as approved in applicable federal
19cases to enforce the federal Voting Rights Actbegin delete (42 U.S.C. Sec.
201973 et seq.)end delete
begin insert ( 52 U.S.C. Sec. 10301 et seq.)end insert to establish racially
21polarized voting may be used for purposes of this section to prove
22that elections are characterized by racially polarized voting.



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