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Leery of Voter Rights Act lawsuits

Posted: July 14, 2013 12:51 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2013 12:51 p.m.
 

It’s good to see that the City of Santa Clarita and College of the Canyons are fighting lawsuits alleging their systems for electing city council and college board members violate the state Voting Rights Act.

Frankly, we don’t know why these lawsuits have been filed and only suspect it’s a way for some out-of-area law firms to earn a little extra money. By looking through our newspaper archives and other research we can find no evidence of discontent within the community concerning the way our city council, college and school district boards have been elected. We say to the lawyers at these firms, where is the evidence?

A Malibu law firm and the law firm of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris have filed suit against the city, the college district and the Sulphur Springs School District claiming their systems for electing their council and board members dilute the Latino vote. They claim these entities’ at-large election systems in which candidates are elected throughout the city as a whole instead of within specific districts prevent Latino voters from having full access to the political process by keeping them from electing candidates of their choice. The suits suggest that a switch to specific district elections would better serve voters.

The charges made by the law firms are serious, but we are suspicious of the motive. We feel these firms are merely going from city to city with their cases much like "ambulance chasers" do seeing if something will stick. They’ve already hit Palmdale with similar accusations.

Where are the numerous allegations of inequities caused by our local at-large election systems? There are two plaintiffs being put forth in these lawsuits against the city and the school districts but are there more people who feel they have been disenfranchised? We’d like to hear from them.

We want more details if these law firms want to convince citizens of this community that there is something to these allegations.

By the way, lawyer R. Rex Parris’ city of Lancaster has an at-large voting system just like the City of Santa Clarita, College of the Canyons and Sulphur Springs School District.

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