Residents invited to submit draft district election maps

Residents invited to submit draft district election maps
Posted on 09/21/2016

Draft maps of potential City Council election districts have been posted online at the City’s website for consideration and comment by members of the public. Residents are invited to submit their comments on posted draft maps or provide their own suggested maps.

The City’s consultant, National Demographics Corporation, posted three distinct draft maps, along with demographic information for each map, to the site www.drawredlands.org/draft-maps.html. In addition, maps posted by residents are also available on the site for review and comment.

On Aug. 16, the City Council approved a resolution to begin the process toward adoption of a “district-based” election system, replacing the City’s current “at-large” system in time for the November 2018 General Municipal Elections.

Recent concern regarding whether at-large elections may violate the 2002 California Voting Rights Act led to the passage of Senate Bill 493 on Jan. 1, 2016, allowing cities with a population of fewer than 100,000 to convert to “by-district” voting by ordinance adopted by the City Council.

In light of litigation and threatened litigation against a number of California cities under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) alleging racially polarized voting, on May 17, 2016, the Redlands City Council directed staff to seek an outside consultant to advise staff and assist in exploring a change to by-district elections in order to avoid an expensive and extended legal battle and to preserve the City’s ability to draw its own district lines. To date, no California city has prevailed in legal challenges against an at-large voting system. On July 19, 2016, the Council approved an agreement with National Demographics Corporation to provide consulting services.

Conversion to a district-based election system will create five districts relatively equal in population. Once fully implemented, each Council Member will be required to reside within a district and would be elected only by the voters of that district. Council Members elected under the current at-large system would serve out the remainder of their existing terms before they are subject to the district election requirements.

In addition to the online maps, the public will have multiple opportunities to participate in the process of drawing of district boundaries.

Under state and federal law voting districts must meet the following criteria:

  • Each Council District shall contain a nearly equal number of inhabitants
  • Council District borders shall be drawn in a manner that complies with the Federal Voting Rights Act
  • Each council district shall not be drawn with race as the predominate factor in violation of the principles established by the United States Supreme Court in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993), and its progeny

Residents are encouraged to visit the City’s By-District Voting web page at http://cityofredlands.org/By-District-Voting. The site includes Frequently Asked Questions, online tools to assist in drawing boundaries for consideration, along with the requirements for balanced districts and news and reports regarding the process. A schedule of meetings will also be available once the dates and locations are confirmed.