(Los Angeles, CA) – Trial in a lawsuit filed by MALDEF alleging that Kern County, California has violated the federal Voting Rights Act concluded in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California this week. It was the first federal Voting Rights Act trial in California in over a decade and a half.
The lawsuit, filed by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) in April 2016 on behalf of Latino voters, argues that a redistricting plan adopted in 2011 by the Kern County Board of Supervisors unlawfully denies Latinos the right to elect candidates of their choice, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the redistricting plan is unlawful and to issue an injunction prohibiting Kern County from holding any further elections until a new plan that complies with the Voting Rights Act is approved and adopted.
The bench trial in the case, heard by U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Drozd in Fresno, ended Tuesday. A decision is pending.
Please attribute the following statement to MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz:
“From late revelations of testimony from Kern County expert witnesses that damaged the defendants’ own defense, to contentions that historical KKK activity in the County was ‘morality policing’ rather than supremacist fear-mongering, Kern County offered a cynical and disappointing defense in this trial. We hope that a judgment in favor of plaintiffs will arrive, and ensure that Kern County can move to healing under a new supervisorial map that complies with the Voting Rights Act and that re-enfranchises so many Latino voters relegated under the current system to being outvoted in election after election.”
Please attribute the following statement to MALDEF National Senior Counsel Denise M. Hulett:
“MALDEF presented authoritative and comprehensive testimony from expert witnesses who indisputably established the unlawful aspects of the supervisorial elections, and from Latino voters in Kern County who have had no choice but to vote in elections that are illegal under the Voting Rights Act. It is our hope that this lawsuit will vindicate the claims of Latino voters and will result in a meaningful opportunity to fully participate in the democratic process in Kern County.”