Current voting system violates the California Voting Rights Act

FALLBROOK, CA - This week, MALDEF sent a letter to several Fallbrook Public Utility District Board Members, demanding that the system for electing board members be changed to comply with the California Voting Rights Act. Fallbrook PUD currently elects board members using an at-large method that has denied Latino residents the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. MALDEF demands the system be changed to a district-based system.

"All elected bodies, regardless of public profile, must represent the entire community," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "The current at-large system fails to serve the needs of the community and of democracy."

"Conversion to a by-district election system would provide Latino voters with an equal opportunity to participate fully in the electoral process, and would no doubt increase civic engagement significantly," said Denise Hulett, MALDEF's National Senior Counsel.

MALDEF conducted an investigation after receiving complaints from Fallbrook Latino citizens and voters that the at-large election system historically resulted in the complete lack of Latino representation on the Board. The investigation confirmed citizen suspicions, finding no Latino members, on the Board for at least the last seven election cycles, despite a 44 percent Latino population in the district.

The CVRA states that "[A]n at-large method of election may not be imposed or applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election." MALDEF reviewed election returns, demographic information, and Spanish-surname analysis of votes cast by precinct, and concluded that the lack of success of Latino voters in selecting candidates of their choice results from persistent racially polarized voting by the electorate.

The right to vote is fundamental to democracy in the U.S., and must be protected for all citizens, regardless of race. MALDEF supports equal representation for all communities.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund