Santa Ana Halts City Council Redistricting, Points to New Lawsuit

Santa Ana City Council members abruptly canceled their effort to re-draw district boundaries, instead relying on a lawsuit by a civil rights group that seeks to require the city to switch to district-based elections and re-draw existing lines.

The lawsuit, by the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles, alleges the city’s at-large election system disenfranchises Asian-American voters in the city’s west end, and violates the California Voting Rights Act. It was filed April 25 in Orange County Superior Court.

“Because of the racially polarized voting in Santa Ana elections, the City’s at-large method electoral system has prevented Asian American voters from electing their candidates of choice and influencing the outcome of City elections,” the lawsuit states.

The California Voting Rights Act, it adds, “was enacted to remedy precisely this kind of dilution and abridgment of rights of racial minority groups.”

The suit seeks a court order banning the city from holding any more at-large elections for City Council members, and requiring the city to adopt “fairly constituted districts that do not dilute or abridge Asian American voting strength or otherwise discriminate against Asian Americans.”