The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on Monday selected a new electoral map which will preserve long standing boundaries while ensuring a strong Latino voter majority in one district.
The Board considered six different alternate maps during a special meeting this week, which came following an analysis submitted by California Common Cause to the county in November. The group argued that a previously-proposed map, which brought little changes to the current boundary lines, watered down the Latino vote in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Stanislaus County was told it could face legal action over the issue.
“We have done quite a bit of analysis and have determined that we have the potential for a Voting Rights Act issue,” County Council Thomas Boze told the Board on Monday in regards to the previous map. “...We have determined that after looking at that, we have one district currently that has a Hispanic majority, but that majority is under-performing.”
In selecting map No. 3 on Monday, Supervisors chose a layout which increases District 5’s Latino voting population to 54.09%, removing both Empire and Keyes from Vito Chiesa’s District 2 and incorporating them into the area represented by Channce Condit. This improves upon the status-quo of 53.93% Latino voters from District 5 and creates one high-performing district rather than two under-performing districts of about 50% Latino voters, Boze explained.
“We could draw two districts with 50.1%...however, those would be under-performing districts. After looking at it, we’ve determined that in order to protect the Hispanic voting rights, it would be more beneficial to have a performing district that has a higher majority of the minority,” Boze said.
The map was recommended by the redistricting advisory commission, many of whom spoke in support of the boundaries during Monday’s meeting.
“[Map No. 3] reflects a tremendous amount of time the commission spent studying the various census data and helping draw them out…At the end of the day, it was obvious that this is a highly complex legal question that we all knew was very important as we try to draw the maps, but leaves me and other commissioners with many questions,” Keyes resident and commission member Mark Looker said.
Latino voting populations in Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 on Map No. 3 would be 26.49%, 28.19%, 36.37% and 32.48%, respectively. In Stanislaus County, Latino voters comprise about 35% of the total voting population while white residents make up almost 53% of voters.
District 5 deviates from the targeted population of 110,946 total residents by a surplus of 5,452 and is the only district to include more than that target; District 2, which includes Turlock, will feature the third-highest population at 110,374.
Chiesa said he didn’t want to see Keyes and Turlock separated as part of the new map, but understood why things needed to be moved. He also advocated against a different map option which would have split Patterson from Newman.
“I have the greatest respect for the work [the commission] did because you guys were thrown a curveball…and it’s no fun trying to find fairy dust in a number, other than trying to do better,” Chiesa said. “We’re trying to do better…We had the benefit of folks spending a lot of time dissecting communities of interest.”
Supervisors will vote on whether or not to approve the new map they selected Monday on Dec. 13, and final boundaries must be submitted by Dec. 15.