County Plan Violates the FAIR MAPS Act and the California Constitution
RIVERSIDE — Latinx people make up nearly half of all residents in Riverside County and roughly two-fifths of the voting population. Despite considerable growth in the Latinx population in the last few decades, there has only been one Latinx supervisor on the county board in its 129-year history.
The local organizing group, Inland Empire United, and six county residents just filed a challenge to Riverside County's 2021 supervisorial district map on behalf of Latinx voters. The 2021 plan unlawfully dilutes the vote of Latinx residents, preventing them from meaningful participation in supervisorial elections.
The board adopted the 2021 plan in the face of overwhelming evidence that the map would have discriminatory effects, including an analysis conducted by its own consultants and a map proposal drafted and submitted by a diversity of community groups led by Inland Empire United that showed that it was possible to adopt a map that kept communities whole.
“For months, Riverside residents demanded the county to do the right thing and adopt maps that would lead to equitable and fair representation. Instead, the supervisors ignored the community and adopted maps that would ensure they had easier reelections,” said Michael Gomez Daly, executive director of Inland Empire United. “The supervisors' redistricting plan is a classic case of politicians putting their own interests over people.”
A map drawn fairly should have included two Latinx-majority voting districts that kept communities of interest together, including Latinx communities around Jurupa Valley and northwest Riverside and around Moreno Valley and Perris. Instead, the 2021 plan divides these two cohesive communities among three districts, placing Latinx residents around Jurupa Valley and Moreno Valley in districts where they do not have equal opportunities to elect candidates of their choice.
The board's plan includes only one district where Latinx people constitute the majority of eligible voters and fails in accurately and inclusively representing the 49.7% of county residents who are Latinx and who have historically and consistently been shut out of the political process. The marginalization of Latinx residents has resulted in disparate access to government services and investments including clean air, quality education, and affordable housing.
"The warehousing industry in Riverside has seen unmatched economic growth in the southland. However, a very small amount of this growth reaches the homes of the thousands of warehouse workers who move the goods," said plaintiff Daisy Lopez, a long-time Eastvale resident who organizes warehouse workers in the county, many of whom are Latinx. "Because of the county’s redistricting plan, our family and friends who work in these warehouses have little to no say on where the profits go and how they can help improve our quality of life.”
The lawsuit brought forward by Inland Empire United; the ACLU Foundation of Southern California; Altshuler Berzon LLP; and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP charges that the county’s plan violates the California Constitution and the Fair and Inclusive Redistricting for Municipalities and Political Subdivisions (FAIR MAPS Act), a new state law that requires counties to comply with Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act and that establishes mandatory, ranked criteria for a fair and inclusive redistricting process.
“There is no legitimate justification for drawing a map that unnecessarily splits up Latinx communities deeply impacted by county policies and that denies them the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” said Julia Gomez, staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The FAIR MAPS Act was designed to prevent exactly this kind of disenfranchisement, and this plan must be struck down.”
The lawsuit calls for the board to rescind its current plan and adopt a plan that complies with the FAIR MAPS Act and that keeps communities of interest intact.
Read the complaint: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/verified_petition_for_writ_of_mandate_and_complaint_for_declaratory_and_injunctive_relief.pdf