Why did the voting process change from at-large to by-district?

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 transitioned from at-large to by-district elections to mitigate costs associated with potential legal challenges under the CVRA.

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1. What is the City’s current election system?
2. What is a by-district election?
3. Why did the voting process change from at-large to by-district?
4. What was the process for creating voting districts?
5. What criteria are used in creating districts?
6. When did the new districts take effect?
7. How does creating voting districts affect me?
8. Where can I learn more about districting and redistricting?
9. How do I get additional information about the process?
10. Where can I find information about maps and districting in Lodi specifically?