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AB-2231 California Voting Rights Act of 2001.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/18/2018 04:00 AM
AB2231:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 17, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 23, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2231


Introduced by Assembly Member Brough

February 13, 2018


An act to amend Sections 14028, 14029, and 14030 of the Elections Code, relating to elections.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2231, as amended, Brough. California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
(1) The California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) prohibits the use of an at-large election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election. The CVRA provides that a violation of the act is established upon a showing of racially polarized voting, as defined.
This bill would provide that a violation of the CVRA is established if the totality of the circumstances show that members of a protected class are not equally able to reasonably participate in the local political processes of the political subdivision because racially polarized voting occurs, as specified. The bill would require the party asserting the violation to demonstrate that three prescribed factors are met.
(2) The CVRA requires a court that finds a violation of the CVRA to implement appropriate remedies, including the imposition of district-based elections, that are tailored to remedy the violation.
This bill would provide that the political subdivision in which the violation occurs may also implement appropriate remedies, as specified.
(3) The CVRA provides that a prevailing plaintiff party, other than the state or a political subdivision thereof, in a CVRA lawsuit may recover reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation expenses, as specified. The CVRA prohibits prevailing defendant parties from recovering costs, unless the court finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.
This bill would instead allow any prevailing party party, other than the state, to recover a reasonable attorney’s fee and costs in a CVRA action.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YESNO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 14028 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

14028.
 (a) (1) A violation of Section 14027 is established if it is shown by the totality of the circumstances that members of a protected class are not equally able to reasonably participate in the local political processes of the political subdivision because racially polarized voting occurs in elections for members of the governing body of the political subdivision or in elections incorporating other electoral choices by the voters of the political subdivision. Elections conducted prior to the filing of an action pursuant to Section 14027 and this section are more probative to establish the existence of racially polarized voting than elections conducted after the filing of the action.
(2) At a minimum, to make a showing under paragraph (1), the party asserting the violation must demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence, that the following three factors have been met:
(A) The protected class is sufficiently large in number and geographically insular to comprise a voting majority within a proposed district that is intended to be represented by a single member of the governing body of the political subdivision.
(B) The protected class has previously voted in a cohesive and reasonably uniform manner.
(C) The voting preferences of the bloc-voting majority show that it is a unified bloc that regularly prevents the protected class’s preferred candidate from prevailing.
(3) The factors in paragraph (2) shall be interpreted and applied consistent with Thornburg v. Gingles (1986) 478 U.S. 30 and related controlling precedent.
(b) The occurrence of racially polarized voting shall be determined from examining the totality of the circumstances leading to the results of elections in which at least one candidate is a member of a protected class or elections involving ballot measures, or other electoral choices that specifically or intentionally affect the rights and privileges of members of a protected class.
(c) Proof of an intent on the part of the voters or elected officials to discriminate against a protected class is not required.
(d) Other factors such as the history of discrimination, the use of electoral devices or other voting practices or procedures that may enhance the dilutive effects of at-large elections, denial of access to those processes determining which groups of candidates will receive financial or other support in a given election, the extent to which members of a protected class bear the effects of past discrimination in areas such as education, employment, and health, which hinder their ability to participate effectively in the political process, and the use of overt or subtle racial appeals in political campaigns are probative, but not necessary factors to establish a violation of Section 14027 and this section.

SEC. 2.

 Section 14029 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

14029.
 Upon a finding of a violation of Section 14027 and Section 14028, the political subdivision or the court shall implement appropriate remedies, which may include the imposition of district-based elections, that are tailored to remedy the violation.

SEC. 3.

 Section 14030 of the Elections Code is amended to read:

14030.
 In any action to enforce Section 14027 and Section 14028, the court shall allow the prevailing party party, other than the state, a reasonable attorney’s fee consistent with the standards established in Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48-49, and litigation expenses including, but not limited to, expert witness fees and expenses as part of the costs.