Board of Supervisors Declares Interest in Respecting Voting Rights Act

SAN DIEGO – For the first time in decades, it appears that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors could adopt a redistricting plan that offers people of color in the southern part of the county an opportunity to elect a candidate who represents their interests. Repeatedly citing the ACLU’s input and analysis, the board voted unanimously to direct staff to draft new district maps that include a majority-minority district in the South Bay area of San Diego County for consideration at a special meeting on September 6, 2011.

“Today’s vote seems to mark a major concession to the scores of community members who came together to voice their objections to the county’s originally proposed flawed redistricting maps that would have disenfranchised voters of color and language minorities,” said Lori Shellenberger, staff attorney for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties and leader of the organization’s voting rights work “All community members should keep the pressure on their supervisors to make sure that the Board’s new district lines do indeed conform to the Voting Rights Act.”

Supervisor Greg Cox, in making today’s motion, noted that he “will not support a plan that does not conform with the Voting Rights Act,” saying he took seriously the ACLU’s expressed legal concerns with the commission’s original maps.

Shellenberger noted that the ACLU and the coalition members still have concerns about a concerted effort to disenfranchise Latinos in North County, saying that the County’s previously proposed plan “rips apart communities of interest” along the Highway 78 corridor and fuses them together with white voters to create a solid white majority in District 5.

At public testimony on June 28, 2011, the San Diego ACLU and community partners expressed serious alarm that the county’s original proposed district lines violated the Voting Rights Act. That act requires that the county map one district in which communities of color and language minorities make up a majority of the citizen voting age population. Historically—and to the present day—district lines were used to fracture concentrations of minority communities into multiple districts so that they could not constitute a majority in one district.

# # #