An appeals court on Wednesday dealt Palmdale a double blow in a long-running battle over the way its city officials are elected. The court rejected Palmdale’s contention that, as a charter city, it is not subject to the California Voting Rights Act — a ruling with implications for Whittier and other cities being sued over alleged voting-rights violations. The three-member panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal also upheld a trial court’s ban on certifying the results of the city’s Nov. 5, 2013, municipal election. Attorneys for the city and the plaintiffs disagreed over the effect the ban would have on city operations. Kevin I. Shenkman, the lead plaintiff’s attorney, said that unless the election is certified, the city will not have a functioning City Council after July 9. That was a deadline set by the trial judge last year when he ordered a new election that conformed with the Voting Rights Act.
Palmdale spokesman John Mlynar said the city’s attorneys do not believe the appeals court ruling prevents the current City Council from continuing to serve until the case is resolved. The city’s appeal of new voting districts has not yet been heard.
Palmdale is one of several cities and other local jurisdictions that were sued over their at-large elections systems.
Plaintiffs have argued that such systems undermine minority voters’ opportunity to elect a representative of their choice. They have demonstrated patterns of racially polarized voting.