Despite a “wave” of Hispanics moving to Orange County, elected leaders “made it harder” for them to get elected when it redrew its political borders, plaintiffs’ attorney Juan Cartagena told a federal judge Monday at the opening of a voting-rights lawsuit. Orange County’s lead attorney countered that voters have elected Latinos to county offices in districts with fewer Hispanic voters than today — and despite what the plaintiffs want, it may be legally impossible to create a majority-Hispanic district. In the suit, local Hispanics accuse Orange leaders of diluting Latino political power. The New York City civil rights group representing them, LatinoJustice PRLDE, called its first witness, who said Hispanics are a large and cohesive enough group to have a majority district.
The plaintiffs next must show that Latinos vote for similar candidates, and that the white majority votes as a bloc and could defeat minority candidates.
However, a scheduling snag could derail the plaintiffs’ early legal strategy because their next available major witness is not available to testify until Wednesday.