SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 21

LEGISLATURE

School Board Elections
and the California
Voting Rights Act
Districts Shift from At-Large
to District-Based Elections
BY CAITLIN JUNG
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, CAPITOL ADVISORS GROUP, LLC

R

ecent years have seen a growing number of
school districts switch from at-large elections,
where all the voters in a jurisdiction elect the
members of the school board members, to
district-based elections, where candidates
must reside within an election district and are
elected only by the voters that reside in that district, a result of
the passage of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) in 2002.
Since 2006, when the Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld
the constitutionality of the CVRA in Sanchez v. City of
Modesto, the threat of litigation and attorney's fees
has prompted many school districts to change how
their school boards are elected.
THE CALIFORNIA VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 2001: WHAT IS IT?

The California Voting Rights Act was enacted in 2002 to
address racial block voting in at-large elections for local office
in California. It was in responses to findings that, in areas where
racial block voting occurred, at-large elections could result in
dilution of the voting rights of minority communities in elections
where the majority typically voted to support a candidate that
differed from the candidate preferred by the minority community. The argument then was that breaking up a jurisdiction into
districts would give minority communities the opportunity to
elect the candidate of their choice or at the very least have the
ability to influence the outcome of the election. Following this
reasoning, the CVRA prohibits the use of an at-large election
method if, due to the dilution or abridgment of the rights of voters
of a protected class, the method infringes on the ability of the
protected class to elect candidates of its choice or the class's
ability to influence the outcome of an election.
Text of the California Voting Rights Act can be found on leginfo.
legislature.ca.gov.
CHALLENGES UNDER THE CVRA

A violation of the CVRA is established if it can be shown that the
at-large electoral system in question results in "racially polarized voting." The CVRA defines "racially polarized voting," as:

"...voting in which there is a difference...in the choice of candidates or other electoral choices that are preferred by voters in
a protected class, and in the choice of candidates and electoral
choices that are preferred by voters in the rest of the electorate."
The CVRA authorizes a voter of a protected class who resides
in a political subdivision, like a school district, where a violation
of the Act is alleged, to file an action in the superior court of the
county in which the subdivision is located. When bringing a
challenge under the CVRA, the fact that members of a protected
class are not geographically compact or concentrated does not
preclude a finding of racially polarized voting and the challenger
does not need to prove intent on the part of the voters or elected
officials to discriminate against the protected class. Additionally,
unlike under the Federal Voting Rights Act, challengers under
SSDA TODAY | WWW.SSDA.ORG

21


http://legislature.ca.gov http://WWW.SSDA.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S COLUMN
Student Free Speech: School Officials’ Response to Student Social Media Comments, “Likes” and Followers
CalPERS Rate Increases Begin to Stabilize
New School Nutrition Laws Take Effect
Website Accessibility: How an Educational Entity Can Ensure its Website is Accessible to those with Disabilities
After Years of Debate, Special Education Credential Seems Destined for Changes
School Board Elections and the California Voting Rights Act: Districts Shift from At-Large to District-Based Elections
ADVERTISER’S INDEX
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - Intro
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - cover1
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - cover2
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 3
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 4
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 5
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S COLUMN
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 7
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 8
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 9
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - Student Free Speech: School Officials’ Response to Student Social Media Comments, “Likes” and Followers
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 11
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 12
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - CalPERS Rate Increases Begin to Stabilize
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 14
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - New School Nutrition Laws Take Effect
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - Website Accessibility: How an Educational Entity Can Ensure its Website is Accessible to those with Disabilities
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 17
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 18
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - After Years of Debate, Special Education Credential Seems Destined for Changes
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - 20
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - School Board Elections and the California Voting Rights Act: Districts Shift from At-Large to District-Based Elections
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - ADVERTISER’S INDEX
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - cover3
SSDA Today - Spring/Summer 2018 - cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/SSCB/SSCB0218
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/SSCB/SSCB0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/SSCB/SSCB0217
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/SSCB/SSCB0117
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/SSCB/SSCB0216
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/SSCB/SSCB0116
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com