In a rare challenge of a California voting district, a federal judge sided with residents that Kern County “dilutes” Latino voters’ influence through discriminatory district lines drawn in 2011.
The plaintiffs, represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), argued that while more than half of Kern County’s population is Latino, just one of the county’s five voting districts is majority-Latino. They claim the county crafted districts to spread out the Latino vote in order to protect incumbents and create an uneven playing field for Latino candidates.
U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd said the county’s method of electing Board of Supervisors candidates is “not equally open to participation by Latino voters” and violates the Voting Rights Act.
“The evidence before the court supports a finding that voting in Kern County is frequently racially polarized,” Drozd said in a 70-page ruling issued Feb. 23.