Fullerton officials have settled a lawsuit alleging that the city’s at-large elections violate California’s Voting Rights Act, agreeing to create a district-based system that would then need voters’ approval. The suit, brought in March by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles and the ACLU of Southern California on behalf of resident Jonathan Paik, argued that at-large voting prevented Fullerton’s minority populations from electing their preferred candidates. A city is stronger when residents feel heard through the democratic process. – Belinda Escobosa Helzer, ACLU Orange County and Inland Empire.
The city has a population of 139,000, 23% of whom are Asian American and 35% are Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The effort to do away with at-large voting in Fullerton is part of a growing movement to increase minority representation.
In Anaheim last year, Latino activists sued to institute district-based elections, in which council members must live in the area they represent and be elected only by voters in that district. City officials promised to put a measure calling for exactly that on the ballot. It passed in November.