A number of civil rights organizations and activists are asking to join the opposition to a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act. The groups, which include the oldest and strongest Hispanic rights organizations in the country, want to side with the California Attorney General’s office in opposition to the lawsuit. Filed on behalf of former Poway Mayor Don Higginson with representation and funding from the conservative Virginia-based The Project on Fair Representation, the lawsuit claims the voting rights act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by denying all citizens the right to choose who they want to represent them.
In recent years, many California cities and other local boards have, in some cases reluctantly, switched from an at-large voting system to district elections. The 2001 voting rights act has been used to address concerns that at-large voting systems too often dilute the voting strength of minority groups. District-based election systems help underrepresented groups elect representatives of their choice from their own communities to city councils, school boards and other local governmental bodies.
Poway recently was forced to establish voting election districts after Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman threatened to sue the city under the provisions of the voting rights act.