District-Based City Council Elections
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In July 2017, the Chino Hills City Council transitioned from at-large voting to district-based voting and held the first district-based election in 2018. Every 10 years, local governments use new census data to redraw district lines to reflect how local populations have changed through the redistricting process. Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together for the purposes of electing a Council Member.
MALDEF letter dated August 9, 2016 (PDF)
The City of Chino Hills received a letter in August of 2016 from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) which stated that MALDEF had received complaints from Latino voters in the City that the use of an "at-large" election system for City Council elections resulted in Latino vote dilution and that Latino voters were prevented from electing candidates of their choice. MALDEF asserted that the City is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 and demanded that the City convert to a district-based election system.
The City of Chino Hills used an at-large election system in which all voters in the City had the opportunity to vote for candidates for all five seats on the City Council. The City Council declared its intent to transition to district-based elections on November 22, 2016, in response to the MALDEF letter which alleges that the lack of success of Latino candidates is the result of "racially polarized voting," which exists when two racial groups vote differently from each other. The remedy for racially polarized voting is to switch to district-based voting in which the City would be divided into five districts and only the voters in a district decide who will represent that district on the City Council.
Draft District Maps
During the transition from at-large voting to district-based voting in 2017 and the most recent redistricting process for 2021-2022, community members have the opportunity to provide input to the City Council on how they think district boundaries should be drawn to best represent their communities and submit draft maps. Submitted draft maps are then posted for public review and available for public comment.
View the 2017 Draft District Maps
View the 2022 Draft District Maps
Impacts on California Cities
According to our City Attorney, a number of cities in California have faced a CVRA lawsuit since it was adopted in 2001 and none of them have successfully defended a CVRA lawsuit brought to mandate district-based elections. Mr. Hensley reported that there is a low threshold for plaintiffs to establish a valid claim under the CVRA and cities are required to pay the plaintiff's costs if their claim is deemed valid. Because there are significant costs to defend against these lawsuits, the vast majority of cities have voted to voluntarily transition to district-based elections.
- Modesto - settled a lawsuit after citizens voted to switch to district-based voting, paid $3 million in fees to the plaintiff's lawyers and $1.7 million for its own lawyers
- Cities sued or threatened with a suit under the CVRA: Anaheim, Bellflower, Ceres, Chino, Compton, Escondido, Fullerton, Highland, Los Banos, Merced, Palmdale, Riverbank, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Tulare, Turlock, and Visalia
- The vast majority of cities have opted to voluntarily transition to district-based elections
- The City of Chino conducted district-based elections in November 2016
- Nearly all cities in the Inland Empire have plans to transition to district-based voting
- An overview of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)