Escondido, California Voters Reject Electing City Council by Districts, but City Council May Impose Districts Anyway to Settle Lawsuit

Escondido, California, one of the larger cities in San Diego County, is 49% hispanic, but only two hispanics have been elected to the city council in the city’s history, which goes back to 1888. On November 6, city voters defeated Measure P, which would have changed at-large city council elections to district elections. But the city is being sued over minority representation, and the city council is still leaning toward settling the lawsuit by imposing districts.

In various newspaper stories, no one in Escondido seems to be talking about other voting systems, such as Ranked-Choice Voting, Cumulative Voting, or Approval Voting. Here is one story.


Escondido, California Voters Reject Electing City Council by Districts, but City Council May Impose Districts Anyway to Settle Lawsuit — 9 Comments

  1. There was a similar case in Maryland. The federal district court ordered a cumulative voting plan, but the Fourth Circuit vacated the order. In the end they adopted a district-based remedy. Cane v. Worcester County, 59 F.3d 165 (1995).

  2. To Doug McNeil

    Thank you for the post. It was interesting.

    TO Richard Winger

    Please explain the lawsuit and which members of the city
    council are in favor of not going along with the voters
    in the City. Also what was the vote on Measure P? It is
    also unclear what the council districts would look like
    under the new plan of the city council vs. the plan put
    forth in Measure P. Please clarify!?

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party of California

  3. The lawsuit was filed under the “California Voting Rights Act of 2001” Elections Code sections 14025-14032.

    Unlike the federal voting rights, the CVRA does not require a finding that district elections would resolve the issue.

  4. Attention – all Democracy folks (and the zillions of brain dead folks regarding REAL Democracy)

    A legislative body in a REAL Democracy exists ONLY because ALL Electors-Voters can NOT assemble in person (in MOST govt areas) and directly vote on legislation (i.e. bills).

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

    Most of the regimes in the U.S.A. are ANTI-Democracies —
    the U.S.A. regime with its 3 minority rule gerrymander systems – H. Reps., Senate, Electoral College.
    ALL 50 State regimes with all gerrymander houses in each State legislature
    Many local gerrymander district regimes.

  5. The original post gives the mistaken impression that the city council can adopt district elections without approval of the voters. Under the California Voting Rights Act, only the courts cans do that. The city can negotiate with the voting rights plaintiffs to agree on a settlement of the lawsuit, but a judge would have to approve that agreement.

    It’s interesting that the city council choose to put the district elections proposal to the voters as part of a proposal to become a charter city. They didn’t have to do it that way. In California, general law cities can switch from at large to districts (and vice versa) by initiative or referendum.

    In 2008, the voters of Davis turned down a charter proposal that was motivated in large part by interest in adopting STV, the proportional form of ranked choice voting. (STV and IRV do require a charter.) There was a lot of opposition to becoming a charter city that was unrelated to the STV issue. I suspect the same might be true of the Escondido charter proposal. You can’t necessarily conclude that Escondido would have voted down a district elections proposal that retained the city’s general law status.

  6. Districts = AUTOMATIC ANTI-Democracy indirect minority rule.

    1/2 votes x 1/2 districts = 1/4 indirectly CONTROL.

    Much worse with primary math.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  7. A clear case for proportional representation. Despite its imperfections, STV would be the most politically viable option here.

    While they’re at it, they could adopt Score Voting or Approval Voting for mayor, and then really have an amazing democracy.

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