(Los Angeles, CA) MALDEF sent a letter to the City of Lodi today warning that its at-large system of electing council members violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA).
In the letter, sent to Lodi Mayor Doug Kuehne, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) says the at-large system dilutes Latino voting strength and prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice.
U.S. Census figures show that Latinos comprise 20.6 percent of the citizen voting-age population of Lodi, and 36.3 percent of its 62,134 residents, but no Latino has ever been elected to Lodi’s city council.
“The residents of Lodi deserve a government that is inclusive of all communities,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “The city council should act swiftly to change to a districted elections system.”
Under the CVRA, cities that have racially polarized voting must switch from an at-large election system, in which members are elected by all voters, to a district-based election where voters who live in those districts select the candidate of their choice.
The letter follows an investigation by MALDEF that found the district’s at-large system has resulted in an underrepresentation of Latino residents on the council.
“We are asking Lodi to convert to district-based elections to ensure that all members of the community, including the Latino community, have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice that will fully and adequately represent the needs of their communities,” MALDEF staff attorney Tanya Cecena Pellegrini said. “Having fair and democratic elections will help the entire Lodi community thrive and prosper.”
Read MALDEF’s letter here.