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City Council settles Voting Rights Litigation while retaining the greatest flexibility for city voters

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The City and Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, in evaluating the best way to alleviate all inconsistencies with the California Voting Rights Act, agreed to replace Mission Viejo’s current at-large voting system. A new at-large voting process will be crafted that enhances the voting voice of all residents. This change won’t happen until 2020. The 2018 election in November will proceed in the traditional fashion.

The City understands it has had some conflict with the California Voting Rights Act and needed to amend its process to comply with law.  The community was not in favor of district-based elections, so the City Council sought an alternative remedy. Through cooperative negotiations and discussions with all parties, the cumulative voting structure is seen as providing the most positive response for all without moving to districts.  The City Council ensured that it retained the greatest flexibility to implement either cumulative voting or reconsider districts if that’s of future interest to the community.  
 
Mission Viejo City Council Members voted into office this November will serve for two years rather than the traditional four-year terms. The City will work with the community on voter education in the coming years.

Comments

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Mon, 07/30/2018 - 2:13 pm

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Are we in the spin cycle or is the city promoting fake news?

Our citizens lost substantial rights on Friday, as the Stipulation totally destroys our long time tradition of "One Man One Vote".

This year’s November 6 election will be for a two term, not the traditional 4 year term.

Beginning in the year 2020, and every four years thereafter, ALL 5 council members are up for re-election; We no longer have the advantage of a 2 year election cycle.

Additionally, the creation of this new cumulative or weighted voting system was established without the voice or the even knowledge of the public.

The council never publicly discussed remedies to solve the city’s CVRA violations, however, they did rapidly close the door to district base voting.

Was this a set-up for a pre-determined outcome to save the seats of the council majority from the consequences of district based voting?

At least three council members would probably have resided in the same district, where they would have had to campaign for the same seat.

Did the council's action and non-action preserve their power and status at the cost of the public good?

Submitted by Tintin on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 2:18 am

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The community was quite clear in rejecting the imposed district-based voting which would give undue influence to certain groups, as opposed to our current democratic plurality. What the new process is, I don't know. Even this article does not describe how the change is more fair.
When we see that some San Francisco-based lawfirm can impose its will on distant communities, I begin to think that breaking California into three states may not be such a bad idea.

Submitted by Hugh Speed on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 7:31 am

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Our country was founded on the premise of 1 person, 1 vote. How did this type of voting ever get sanctioned? I understand other cities do this. That does not make it right. Our Forefathers must be spinning in their graves!

Submitted by Jerome kersey on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 10:18 am

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Ms. Schlicht lost for making exactly the conspiratorial allegations she makes above.

That was a good thing for the city.

Submitted by Jerome kersey on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 10:21 am

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No Hugh, the country was not founded on 1 person 1 vote. Women, the poor and the 3/5ths people could not even vote. The forefathers as you call them insisted on "no taxation without representation" and then proceeded to deny a lot of people (all the women alone would make it more than 50%) the right to choose their representation.

Why are you so uninformed?

Submitted by Susan D on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 10:49 am

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One person, one vote, anything else is unconstitutional. Remember
"no taxation without representation"? Just because people are quiet does not mean they are stupid.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 11:43 am

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The city council will be shifting blame away from themselves by stating that they were following the will of the people.

However, the public was never given the opportunity to choose between district based voting vs. weighted or cumulative voting.

On February 13, the city admitted its violations of the California Voter Rights Act and then went behind closed doors to find a remedy and never gave the public the freedom to decide how we wanted to elect our public officials.

Submitted by Kathy Dittner on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 3:52 pm

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In a Register article August 30, it stated that minorities would get 5 votes to our 1 vote to make it "fair"? Look up the article or tell me this is not so. What has happened to our City Council who would vote for such a solution to a problem we do no have......that we are suppressing minority votes? I never heard of this solution nor were the voters informed.

Submitted by Dale A. George on Fri, 08/03/2018 - 5:54 pm

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The problem is that days before the filing deadline for Council candidates we have this issue dropped on us.
Don't know whether this is more democratic or not as we do not have studies to support.
Would the individual Council members provide comments on this and its appropriateness ?

Submitted by William Dumler on Sat, 08/04/2018 - 9:15 am

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California voting law, while not explained here seems to be the mystery here. From my perspective M.V. is forced to conform to a law, to correct a condition that does not seem to exist. How is a "weighted" voting system fair?
Now that M.V. is a city, it's as I feared, another lever of civic bureaucracy, and petty political squabbling.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Mon, 08/06/2018 - 10:53 am

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After the February 13, 2018 conclusion of the poorly advertised public hearing process, the city was to adopt an ordinance with a remedy to cure the city’s admitted violations of the CVRA. Instead, the city attorney requested the creation of an Ad Hoc committee and failed to request an extension of time for our Safe Harbor period. That Safe Harbor period expired on January 22, 2018.

Consequently, the city’s inaction bought us a lawsuit that was served on the city on May 15, 2018.

It took a month for Mayor Ed Sachs to assign council members Greg Raths and Trish Kelley to the CVRA Ad Hoc committee. Are we to consider it an irony that Ed Sachs, Greg Raths and Trish Kelley, who all live south of Oso Parkway, would probably have resided in the same district if the council had approved district based voting over the cumulative voting that comes into play in 2020?

Showing no urgency, the Ad Hoc Committee only met three times since its March 13 formation: April 10, May 15 and again on July 3.

There so much evidence in the public record that delay tactics were engaged in order to protect the status quo of the council majority and in so doing, the voters voice was eliminated from the process.

Currently, there is not a pathway to cumulative voting. I shared that information with Judge Schwarm, and it was added to the court’s record.

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