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Districting Workshop October 30, 2021

The City of Mission Viejo held its first “at-large” community education meeting addressing the change to district-based elections on October 30, 2021. We appreciate all who attended and contributed questions, suggestions, and their personal opinions. All public input is very valuable and helps the City advance this process. Some points of the discussion from the meeting are summarized below.

  1. Why are we doing this?

    The City’s voters, in using the commonly used “at large’ process” used by most cities, counties, school districts and similar forms of government was determined, by your City Council, to inadvertently violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. The City had been using the at large voting process since its 1988 incorporation, without issues being raised.

    In 2017, it was asserted by a respected voting rights group, that the historic process unintentionally, as has also been found in hundreds of California cities and districts, resulted in an unintentional failure to satisfy the 2001 Voters Rights Act voter outcome requirements.

    The City Council immediately began a review of the at-large process and determined the inadvertent inconsistency with that Act was present. The City Council immediately undertook all efforts to cause the voting process to conform to the letter and spirit of the law. Which brings us to this process.
  2. Did the City violate the law via its at-large voting?

    No. The City itself did nothing to cause the 2001 Voting Rights Act to be violated. The voting patterns that can be documented, after detailed analysis ordered by the City Council, found that the voters’ actions unintentionally resulted in a violation of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. Simply put, the preferred candidates of the City’s minority voters did not win, perhaps because those voters votes were “diluted”. This may be because they are spread out in the at-large process and so their votes do not have the same impact as non-minority voters votes. The City itself did not violate any law, and immediately undertook the actions to correct the unintended outcome that is inconsistent with the requirement of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.. As a weak, analogy: some houses do not have carbon-monoxide detectors or smoke alarms. Those houses must add them to meet current law, but the house was “legal” when first built. When laws change, unintentional non-compliance is not viewed as “breaking the law”, but as not being non-compliant. The remedy is to change to conform to the current law, not some penal “lawbreaker” penalty. 

    The City Council immediately began the remedy when the non-conformity was identified.
  3. Should an outside body select the districts for Mission Viejo residents and so bypass the City’s legislative body?

    No. The law forbids a governing body from delegating its duties to third parties. This would be more a violation if the City Council allowed non-City residents, who are not elected legislative body members, to set the legal districts for Mission Viejo residents. This is expressly prohibited in the Constitution of the State of California. 
  4. Should a limited membership, appointed body evaluate the districts or the whole community do so?

    The City Council believes all input from every member of the community is important. The City Council invites every resident resident to submit a proposed districting map and then invites the whole community to comment on those maps. Excluding residents from participating in any manner as to mapping of districts does not achieve the public input this City Council has directed to occur and which our residents expect.  While having a small select group decide which maps would guide our future, may ve convenient, the City Council and public do not mind the extra work to involve everyone in the process

We thank you for your involvement and look forward to hearing from the community as this process advances.

Districting Workshop Audio




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