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Bay Area Voting Rights Initiative
Posted on 12/21/2018
Voting

Bay Area Voting Rights Initiative

On November 5th, 2018, the City of San Ramon received a demand letter from a Walnut Creek based attorney, Scott Rafferty, representing the Bay Area Voting Rights Initiative and demanding the City change its current at large based voting process to a district based voting process.  The letter alleges the City was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The fact that the City has not intentionally discriminated is of no relevance when considering the CVRA. In response to the demand letter and the fact that all cities to date who have litigated similar demand letters have been unsuccessful, the City Council decided to begin the process of moving to district based elections.  Consideration was given to litigating the issue however, in light of the unlikelihood of prevailing in a lawsuit as experienced by other jurisdictions, and the exposure to substantial legal fees which could range in the millions of dollars, the City Council directed staff to begin the process.   In order to comply with the Letter and minimize exposure, the City will begin the process in January of 2019. There are legal protections capping legal fees if the City adheres to certain statutory timelines.  Although the City has chosen to move to district based elections, the City has discretion on how the district maps are drawn.  There will be multiple opportunities for community input prior to the maps being finalized.

Meetings

Date Topic/Purpose Location
February 12, 2019 City Council Meeting: Discussion of Resolution of Intention to Move to District Based Elections City Hall, 7pm
January 29,  2019 Public Information Meeting on District Elections City Hall
6pm
11/27/2018 City Council Meeting: Discussion of District-Based Councilmember Elections, Item 11.3 City Hall

For more information on Voting Rights Lawsuits visit https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB182.

Please contact Steven Spedowfski with any specific questions or concerns that you have regarding this process.  The email address for district elections is districtelections@sanramon.ca.gov.  Please be aware that all emails to this address are a matter of public record.  Contact by phone at (925) 973-2653.  For updates on this topic, visit our District Election page.