Palmdale Continues Sole Fight Against Voting Rights Act

All across the state, municipalities are scrambling to comply with the state’s Voting Rights Act in order to settle expensive lawsuits. Some cities are preemptively making changes in order to avoid a Voting Rights Act lawsuit in the first place. 

The Antelope Valley city of Palmdale is the only city fighting against its Voting Rights Act lawsuit. It has lost court battles and racked up legal fees trying to keep their current voting system despite a trial court ruling that it violated minority voters’ rights. The case was brought before an appeals court, which agreed with the trial judge on several points. Undeterred, the city is looking to the state Supreme Court to step in.

Palmdale Mayor James Ledford spoke out against the lawsuits, asking the cities to “wake up” and unite against lawsuits that he calls “nothing but a money grab.” 

Reportedly, the city has spent $1.5 million on private attorneys, and recently was ordered to pay nearly $3.5 million in plaintiff’s lawyers fees. Most other local governments opted to settle the lawsuits by agreeing to elect council members by geographical districts, which allowed voters in areas with high minority populations more of an opportunity to elect the official of their choosing into office. 

Some critical of these changes say that switching to geographical districts undermines a voter’s ability to cast their vote for candidates across a city of school district, and that it does not provide a solution to cities where the minority populations are spread across the city. 

Palmdale has stated it will appeal Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark V. Mooney’s entire decision this summer, and will continue to hold its November elections in under the current at-large system. They have appealed Mooney’s order to not certify the at-large results. 

Read more about Palmdale’s fight here.