Garden Grove Dumps At-Large Voting System

The City of Garden Grove will soon move to district-based elections as part of a lawsuit settlement agreed to Friday.

Former city council candidate Rickk Montoya filed the suit this year, alleging that the city’s at-large system disenfranchised Latino voters and therefore violated the California Voting Rights Act. In addition to the creation of 5 separate geographic districts, the city will also do away with its independently elected mayor, who will instead by appointed by the council.

The changes to Garden Grove’s election system will take effect in November 2016. Alongside these modifications, the city has agreed to pay Montoya $290,000 in litigation fees.

With Friday’s agreement, Garden Grove joins a growing list of California cities which have scrapped their at-large systems on the basis that they dilute minority votes. In fact, activists say it is for this reason that a Latino has yet to be elected to the city council.

“The electoral record of Latinos has been abysmal in Garden Grove,” said Zeke Hernandez, the president of the Santa Ana chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “I applaud the City Council for taking this momentous step. I think the city will be better for it.”

Read more about Friday’s settlement here.

Image Credit: Flickr User notbrucelee, https://flic.kr/p/8Q9NPn via (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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