District Based Election System Process - Voting Area Process

The Port San Luis Harbor District currently elects its Board through an at-large electoral system in which each Board member may reside anywhere within the District boundaries, is elected by the entire electorate, and the candidates with the most votes fill the open seats.  This electoral system is known as the “multi-seat plurality electoral system.” 

The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) allows for legal challenges alleging that an at-large system has resulted in racially polarized voting within a jurisdiction and seeking a court order that a jurisdiction convert to a district-based election system.  A district-based electoral system is one in which a jurisdiction is divided into separate geographic districts, each with one representative who resides in the district and is elected only by the voters residing within the district.  In a district-based system, voters within each district may vote for only one candidate.  “Racially polarized voting” under the CVRA means: 

“Voting in which there is a difference, as defined in case law regarding enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10301 et seq.), in the choice of candidates or other electoral choices that are preferred by voters in a protected class, and in the choice of candidates and electoral choices that are preferred by voters in the rest of the electorate. The methodologies for estimating group voting behavior as approved in applicable federal cases to enforce the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10301 et seq.) to establish racially polarized voting may be used for purposes of this section to prove that elections are characterized by racially polarized voting.” 

The Act amended Elections Code Section 10010 is an attempt to provide a “safe harbor” from Act litigation for agencies that choose to voluntarily transition to a district-based election system after receiving a threat of litigation. If an entity received a demand letter, the entity is given 45 days of protection from litigation to assess the situation. If within 45 days, the agency adopts a resolution declaring its intent to transition from at-large to district-based elections, outlining specific steps to be undertaken to facilitate the transition, and estimating a time frame for action, then a potential plaintiff is prohibited from filing an action for an additional 90-day period. Under the Act, the public entity’s liability is capped at $30,000[1] in reimbursement costs to the prospective plaintiff if it follows the process outlined in the Act.

On December 17, 2020, the District received correspondence from Robert Goodman, Attorney at Law, noticing a violation of the CVRA.  The correspondence included a  timeline of 45 days from receipt to adopt a resolution outlining the District’s intention to transition from at-large to district elections.   As a result, on January 26, 2021, the Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution No. 21-02 which Declared the District’s intention to transition from at-large to district-based elections by November 2022.  

On July 27, 2021, the Commission awarded Cooperative Strategies, a redistricting consultant, a contract for the completion of the creation and implementation of voting areas, ensuring the District is in compliance with the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).

On January 26, 2021, the Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution No. 21-02 which Declared the District’s intention to transition from at-large to district-based elections by November 2022.  Elections Code Section 10010 provides that before any map or maps of the boundaries for the proposed areas are drawn, the District must conduct two (2) Public Hearings over a period of no more than thirty (30) days, at which time the public is invited to provide input regarding the composition of said area boundaries.

Timeline

  • September 28, 2021 - First Pre-Map Hearing and Presentation
  • October 28, 2021 - Second Pre-Map Hearing
  • January 25, 2022 - First Public Hearing on Voting Area Scenarios
  • February 22, 2022 - Second Public Hearing on Voting Area Scenarios
  • March 22, 2022 - 
    • Final Public Hearing on Voting Area Scenarios
    • Board Selection of Voting Area Map
    • Board Consideration of Change in Election Method
  • March 2022 - Cooperative Strategies sends Final Voting Area Map to the County of Registrar of Voters
  • November 2022 - First Election Held Utilizing Voting Areas


Staff Reports and Presentations


September 28, 2021

October 26, 2021