The ABC Unified School District in Cerritos has become the latest jurisdiction to switch election systems in the face of lawsuits alleging violations of the California Voting Rights Act.
The district’s board voted Tuesday to settle a lawsuit brought against it and to implement a new election system. The settlement was announced Wednesday in separate news releases by the district and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, which brought the suit on behalf of Latino residents.
Under the settlement, the district will stop electing its board members at large and create seven geographic voting areas. Voters in each area will elect a board member to represent them. Advocates of by-area elections say they will improve minorities’ opportunities to elect a candidate they believe can best represent them.
The board, which is paying $140,000 in plaintiffs’ attorney fees as part of the settlement, will work with community members to draw up new voting areas in time for the next election, scheduled for 2015.