SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Election districts for the board of supervisors in a Central California county illegally dilute the voting power of Latinos and deprive them of an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, a federal judge said Friday.
U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd struck down Kern County's 2011 redistricting plan, saying it was not "equally open to participation by Latino voters."
The ruling came in a lawsuit by the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund against the Central California county. An email after hours to the county's attorney, Mark Nations, was not immediately returned.
MALDEF argued that the boundary between two districts in the county broke up a large Latino community in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
"Today's decision should stand as a warning to other counties in California, a number of which also failed to comply with the Voting Rights Act during the last round of redistricting," Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF said in a statement. "The growing Latino community is entitled to representation, and drawing lines to protect incumbents risks costly litigation to secure an eventual remedy to protect voters' rights."
Lawsuits challenging voting districts in California are unusual. The Obama administration aggressively pursued lawsuits over minority voting rights in Texas and North Carolina, but was criticized for not taking similar action in California. Los Angeles County, where roughly half of the 10 million residents are Latino, has also faced criticism that its political boundaries unfairly reduce the clout of Latino voters.
Drozd's ruling came after an 11-day trial in December that included testimony from Kern County residents, demographers and political scientists and historians. The judge said the plaintiffs had shown that the Latino community in Kern County was sufficiently numerous and geographically compact to constitute the majority in a second supervisorial district, and that the majority in Kern County votes sufficiently as a bloc to usually defeat Latino-preferred candidates.
The lawsuit will now move into a second phase for the judge to consider ways to correct the imbalance.
After posting a $250,000 bail, 92-year-old Richard Peck, who is accused of shooting and killing his son while he slept at their Old Town residence, was released from jail.
The scorched Northern California town of Paradise should get its first significant rainfall in six months this week, a forecast that would at least interrupt one of the most horrific fire seasons in state history.
News 8 is happy to share an update on a recent story that will make you smile. Last week we told you about the strong winds that blew away all the sand at the Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Facility in Ramona.
With 79 people killed in the nation's deadliest wildfire in at least a century, there are still nearly 700 names on the list of those unaccounted for.
In 1996, a fire swept through the Harmony Grove community in North County, killing one man trapped inside his car. Now, the community is expressing their opposition to a new development project – saying it would create more traffic and increase the time it would take evacuate on a two-lane road.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited Border Field State Park Tuesday to view reinforcements added along the Mexican border in anticipation of a caravan of Central American migrants, saying her agency will do what it takes to prevent illegal crossings.
For nearly 40 years a nonprofit organization in San Diego called TERI has been a champion for those with autism. In Tuesday’s Zevely Zone, Jeff is in Oceanside where star power meets special needs.
During World War II over 400,000 service members were lost and, of those, 72,000 went unaccounted for or have never been identified.
U.S. authorities are reinforcing the border to stop members of the migrant caravan from entering the country illegally. News 8’s Steve Price reports on one of the new security measures being implemented and explains why experts say it's so effective.
Human bone fragments found in the Woolsey Fire burn area in Malibu were there before the blaze ravaged the area, authorities announced Tuesday.