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Santa Monica is on trial over voting rights lawsuit

A view of Third Street Promenade on April 3, 2012 in Santa Monica, California.
A view of Third Street Promenade on April 3, 2012 in Santa Monica, California.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Vans

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The city of Santa Monica is being sued for violating California’s Voting Rights Act, according to plaintiff Maria Loya.  

The lawsuit comes after Maria Loya lost elections for City Council and the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees back in 2004 and 2014. Loya claims her loss was a result of the at-large election and is now asking the court to switch the city to a district-election system.

The city’s attorneys, however, say that changing to a district-based system would not solve the problem. Because the Latino population is spread throughout the city, a representative for each district may not be the best solution.

Meanwhile, a conservative legal foundation is taking California’s Voting Rights Act to federal court, saying that it is putting too much emphasis on race as a factor in elections. What are the parallels between these two suits and have they created unusual bedfellows?


Kate Cagle, senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press; she tweets @KateCagle  

Andrea Alarcon, civil rights attorney for Shenkman Hughes, a Los Angeles-based law firm representing Maria Loya, who is suing the city of Santa Monica over its voting system

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., LA-based attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which was hired by Santa Monica to work with the city attorney’s office and represent the city; he is an appellate and constitutional law expert; he is one of the lead attorneys defending Santa Monica

Rick Hasen, professor specializing in election law at UC Irvine; he tweets @rickhasen