MALDEF THREATENS VICTOR VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT WITH LEGAL ACTION OVER AT-LARGE VOTING SYSTEM
At-Large Voting System To Elect Board of Trustees Violates California Voting Rights Act
November 2, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CA - - In a letter sent today to Victor Valley Community College District officials, MALDEF warned that the current at-large system used to elect the five-member Board of Trustees violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA). The letter, sent to Victor Valley Community College District Superintendent Roger Wagner, alleges that the election system used by Victor Valley Community College District dilutes the Latino vote and prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice to serve on the Board of Trustees.
“With a critical national election less than one week away, Victor Valley Community College District can take an important step toward fairer elections in the future," said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “It should agree to convert to elections by district so that the entire community can be represented among the trustees".
The letter follows an investigation by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) that found the district’s at-large system has resulted in an underrepresentation of Latino residents on the board. “Latinos have been shut out of the district’s electoral process because of the at-large election system," said Matthew Barragan, a staff attorney with MALDEF. "The remedy to this unlawful process is to create districts. The CVRA was enacted to bring equal opportunity to the electoral process in jurisdictions like Victor Valley Community College District".
Latinos comprise 34 percent of the citizen voting-age population of Victor Valley Community College District. However, there is currently no Latino/a serving on the five-member Board of Trustees. Other community college districts have faced similar legal challenges in recent years, including Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), Cerritos Community College District and Santa Clarita Community College District.
The Victor Valley Community College District serves the population of the southwestern part of San Bernardino County, where the communities of Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley, Phelan and Adelanto are located.
A copy of the letter sent to the board can be viewed HERE.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.