LOS ANGELES – MALDEF sent a letter to the Board of Directors of the Camarillo Health Care District (HCD) today warning that the district’s at-large system of electing its Board of Directors violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA).
In the letter, sent on behalf of an unnamed Latino voter to Board President Christopher Loh, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) says the district’s current at-large system dilutes Latino voting strength and prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice. In the letter, MALDEF demands that Camarillo HCD switch to a district election system before the November 2020 elections.
Healthcare districts are public entities that provide community-based health care services to residents throughout the state. Each of California’s healthcare districts is governed by members of a locally elected board who are directly accountable to the communities they serve. Camarillo HCD, located in Ventura County, was founded in 1968.
U.S. Census figures show that Latinos comprise 20 percent of the citizen voting-age population in Camarillo HCD. Yet, according to MALDEF’s letter, “… it appears that none of the five current directors of the Board are Latino, and that no Latino candidate has ever served on the Board.”
“Community-based health care services are critical to the Latino community,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “It is important that elections systems for health care districts ensure a fair opportunity for the Latino community to elect candidates of choice.”
Under the CVRA, local jurisdictions, including healthcare districts, that show patterns of racially polarized voting that curtail a minority group’s ability to elect its preferred candidates must switch from an at-large election system, in which members are elected by all voters, to district-based elections where voters who live in each district elect the candidate of their choice from within the specific district.
“Latino families are a large part of Camarillo HCD, yet they are shut out of the electoral process because of the at-large election system. Creating districts will allow all families in Camarillo HCD to be heard,” said Julia Gomez, MALDEF Staff Attorney.
Read MALDEF’s Letter.