REDLANDS, CA – Today, MALDEF sent a letter to the Mayor of Redlands and the Redlands City Council, demanding that the system for electing members to the city council be changed to comply with the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The City currently elects council members using an at-large method, which has denied Latino residents the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the City Council. MALDEF demands that the City convert to a by-district election system.
“The Redlands at-large system prevents the City Council from adequately representing the substantial portion of the City population that is Latino,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “Through its votes, the Latino community has demonstrated that it has different views than other City residents, and those views must be represented in City decision-making.”
MALDEF conducted an investigation after receiving complaints from Latino citizens and voters in the City that its at-large election system prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of choice to the City Council. According to U.S. Census data, Latinos constitute 30.3 percent of the population of Redlands. However, there are currently no Latino members on the five-seat council.
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 and demographic information, and concluded that the lack of success of Latino voters in electing candidates of their choice results from persistent racially-polarized voting in the electorate.
The letter requests that the City of Redlands respond by August 12, 2016. If the response is unsatisfactory, MALDEF and its clients will seek a judicial order changing the election system from at-large to by-district, along with other relief provided for in the CVRA, including the collection of costs and attorneys’ fees.
Matthew Barragan, MALDEF Staff Attorney, said, “The interests of the entire community are best served by complying with the CVRA and by transitioning to single-member districts, which ensure that all communities have their views represented.”
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 across the country.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.