August 2, 2011 (San Diego)—By a unanimous vote, San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors today decided to redraw supervisorial districts to include a South Bay district in which racial minorities comprise the majority of the population The five white Supervisors, all Republicans, originally had proposed a map with all-white majority districts.
But after the American Civil Liberties Union testified on June 28 that the proposed district lines violated the Voting Rights Act, Supervisors opted against risking costly litigation.
The Voting Rights Act requires that the county have one district in which communities of color and language minorities make up a majority of the citizens’ voting age population. Historically, district lines have often been used to fracture minority communities into multiple districts, diluting voting power for those populations.
Supervisor Greg Cox, in making today’s motion, state that he “will not support a plan that does not conform with the Voting Rights Act.”
Trinh Le, community organizer for the Center on Policy Initiatives, testified that a redistricting lawsuit ten years ago cost taxpayers $1.6 million—money that could better have been spent on the public good.
"Today's vote seems to mark a major concession to the scores of comunity members who came together to voice their objections to the County's originally proposed flawed redistricting maps that would have disenfranchised voters of color and language minorities," said Lori Shellenberger, staff attorney for the ACLU in San Diego and leader of the organiation's voting rights work. "All community members should keep the pressure on their Supervisors to make sure that the Board's new district lines do indeed conform to the Voting Rights Act."
County officials will present new district maps at a special meeting on September 6.