LA MIRADA, CA – The La Mirada City Council voted Tuesday to change its current at-large voting system to a district-based election system.
The vote comes less than a month after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) threatened to sue the city because it was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).
“We look forward to working with residents of La Mirada during the public hearings to inform the city how they define their communities of interest,” said Matthew J. Barragan, a staff attorney with MALDEF. “Our agreement will ensure that all voices in the city are heard.”
Under the agreement, La Mirada city officials will adopt an ordinance to establish five districts that will be in place in time for the March 2017 city council election.
The agreement follows an investigation by MALDEF of complaints from Latino citizens and voters in La Mirada who said the city’s at-large election system prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice to the City Council. Latinos constitute 36 percent of the eligible voter population of La Mirada, according to the U.S. Census. However, there has been only sporadic and limited representation of the Latino community on the council even as the Latino population has grown.
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.
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.
Read the agreement HERE.