Over the last several years, cities, school districts, and community college districts throughout the State have been changing from at-large to by-district elections to comply with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) and/or to avoid litigation. The CVRA expands the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 by eliminating key requirements including geographical compactness of a minority group and the group’s ability to form a majority in a district.
By eliminating these important elements in the federal law, State law made it easier for plaintiffs to sue and prevail. Not a single jurisdiction has prevailed in litigation under the CVRA; several jurisdictions have paid millions in out-of-court settlements and all challenged jurisdictions have transitioned from at-large elections.
On October 31, 2017, the City of Lodi received a letter of complaint from the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) alleging that the City of Lodi is in violation of the CVRA and must convert to a by-district election. Based on this threat of litigation, the City Council is proposing to transition from at-large to by-district elections to mitigate costs associated with potential legal challenges under the CVRA.
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The City currently elects its Council Members through an at-large election system. This means that each council member can reside anywhere in the City and is elected by the registered voters of the entire City.
In a by-district election system, the City is divided into districts. Each council member is elected by the registered voters of the particular district in which the council member resides.
The City will be conducting a number of meetings and public hearings over the next few months to gather community input from residents. Public participation is strongly encouraged. Draft maps will be drawn by a demographer based on community input.
At the end of the process, after all public input is received and considered, the City Council will select a final map and adopt an ordinance establishing a by-district election system.
In accordance with applicable law, districts must:
A community of interest is a distinctive area that has a definable group of people, unique geography or some other distinguishable feature or characteristic. A professional demographer will assist in drawing and meeting the requirements of the criteria.
community of interest
The new process will be staggered consistent with the City’s existing electoral process. The first election to be held using the newly-formed districts would occur in November 2018 and three seats will be voted upon. The second election would occur in November 2020 and two seats will be voted upon.
With the transition complete, all subsequent elections would be held by-district.
Beginning in 2018, Lodi residents will have the opportunity to vote for candidates who run in the district in which they live. Once elected, these council members will provide direct geographic and demographic representation to their district. All five Council Members will continue to vote on all matters that come before the City Council.
There are a number of online publications and guides to redistricting, including:
A number of meetings and public hearings will be held prior to the adoption of a district-based election system. Information about the time and location of the meetings and public hearings can be found on the City’s website. For specific information about the districting process, please contact:
Visit Draw Lodi to view draft maps or learn additional information and frequently asked questions. You can also access the Lodi online districting site. You will be required to create a user account and password.