Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

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Fullerton City Council Discuss Prospective Electoral District Lines

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Fullerton City Council debated various technicalities of drawing up maps for district elections Tuesday night with the majority of the public expressing support for a map originally drawn up by a resident.

The city, which has at-large elections, may be transforming into a district electoral system after being sued in 2015 for allegedly disenfranchising minority voters. Fullerton voters will decide in November if they will switch to district elections or not, as a part of the settlement.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Asian Americans Advancing Justice filed the lawsuit alleging that the lack of Asian-American representation on the council board violated the California Voting Rights Act.

The 2010 federal census reported that Asians make up 22.8 percent of Fullerton, while Hispanics make up 33.4 percent of the population. All five board members are white.

David Ely of Compass Demographics attended the meeting and has worked with the citizens of Fullerton over the span of seven months to create sample district maps. The struggle while drawing the maps was to keep them legal under the voting rights act, Ely said.

The map that garnered the most support was created by Fullerton resident and educator Jeanette Vazquez. Ely modified her version to keep it within legal standards and to maintain clear boundaries.

“Each of these districts have a major point of interest which also seem like a point of interest to community members during the hearings,” Vazquez said.

Minority members in support of the map said that these defined lines would allow for a better future for children and a better chance for representation of a group of people.

The opposition said the boundaries would intersect in, and split, the downtown area and that a city with five districts would be detrimental to the community as a whole.

“I don’t support the five-district concept,” said Council Member Doug Chaffee. Instead, Chaffee supports a six-district concept that would allow an at-large mayor to be elected.

Residents have until May 10 to submit different versions of district maps. The future of the electoral lines will be decided in the next council meeting on May 17. If the public votes to move along with a district electoral system, then the system will be set in place by 2018.

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