LOS ANGELES – A districting plan under consideration by an elementary school district in northern San Diego County must be rejected because it does not ensure Latinos a sufficient opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in the next election, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) warned in a letter sent to district officials today.
The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District is transitioning from an at-large election system that diluted the Latino community’s voting rights to district-based elections to comply with the California Voting Rights Act, but a districting plan selected by the board fails to remedy the CVRA violation, MALDEF warned in its letter today. The plan, known as Map 103, was drawn to protect incumbent board members and does not put a seat in a proposed Latino-majority district up for election until 2022, denying Latinos equal voting opportunity in the November 2020 election.
“Although MALDEF did not send the threat of litigation that triggered the change in the Fallbrook school district election system, we cannot permit a voluntary settlement to postpone the relief from violation to which Latino voters and community members are entitled,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Federal and state law require a quicker and more effective remedy than the self-serving map that the incumbent board members seem to be poised to adopt.”
The board is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, to adopt the Map 103 plan, which places an incumbent board member in a Latino-majority district. “If the District adopts Map 103, voters in District 1 will continue to bear the effects of the discriminatory at-large electoral system for another three and a half years,” says the letter from MALDEF, which urges the board to consider an alternative plan.
Community members have proposed a map for a district that includes a larger Latino voting age population and would be up for election in 2020.
“The purpose of voting rights laws is to protect voters, not incumbents,” said MALDEF staff attorney Julia Gomez. “To do this, the board must adopt a plan that gives Latino voters a real chance to elect candidates of their choice as soon as possible – in November 2020.”
Read the letter here.