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At-Large vs. District-Based Elections: Legal Challenges, Financial Risks and Compliance Procedures

Public agencies across California are facing a wave of demand letters threatening litigation if they do not change their at-large elections (all voters can vote on all candidates) to district-based elections, which requires creating district maps that separate the public entity into defined geographic areas from which that area elects a representative.

Further, if public agencies do not switch to district elections, the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) allows legal challenges to at-large elections. In those lawsuits, plaintiffs seek to prove that at-large elections dilute the voting strength of a protected class, which has been a low bar to cross. Further, public entities that are unsuccessful in defending a legal challenge to their voting system can be on the hook for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in their own legal bills as well as those of the victorious plaintiff.

On March 19, Meyers Nave attorneys provided a complimentary webinar to help public agencies understand the legal challenges and financial risks they face and, if they choose, how to transition to district-based elections in compliance with both the California Voting Rights Act and the Federal Voting Rights Act. Their webinar will cover:

  • Pros and cons of at-large vs. district-based elections
  • Legal and financial implications of city challenges to CVRA litigation
  • Safe Harbor provisions of AB 2123 and AB 350
  • Relevant compliance criteria for drawing population maps for district-based elections