The IVC board voted unanimously Wednesday to modify trustee area boundaries and change from “at-large” to “by-trustee area” elections in order to be compliant with the California Voting Rights Act, according to a press release.
Currently, the seven IVC trustees must live within the boundaries of the specified areas corresponding to the county’s high school or unified school districts in the Brawley Union, Central Union, Calexico Unified, Holtville Unified, San Pasqual Unified, Imperial Unified and Calipatria Unified districts.
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IVC interim President/Superintendent Victor Jaime said the board-approved redistricting for the November 2012 election will be “the first time we’ve changed the district boundaries in the 50 years we’ve been here.”
“We want to ensure our system is proportionate, fair and consistent with ‘one person, one vote’ representation,” Jaime said.
Conforming to the law
Jaime said the change to the college’s elections conforms to both state and federal Voting Rights Acts “so that you don’t have large populations in the county electing a board member and the wishes of a board member that serves in a smaller district are not heard because they’re dwarfed by a larger majority in a larger district.”
IVC spokesman Bill Gay said these changes are being driven by the CVRA due to a mix of the 2010 census and various accounts of pending litigation throughout the state by school districts being sued for alleged discrimination in representation from “at-large” votes.
In August 2008, Madera Unified School District, the Madera County Office of Education and Madera County’s registrar of voters were sued by the San Francisco-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights alleging the way the district elected its board members disenfranchised Latino voters, according to capitolweekly.net. The MUSD paid about $300,000 in the end.
Similar cases are happening around the state with much more costly price tags, including the city of Modesto’s $4.7 million loss due to noncompliance with the Voting Rights Act.
“Now that we have that new law it requires us at this point to move forward,” Jaime said.
According to the press release, the board will be appointing a citizens committee to provide input on the new district boundaries.
“The demographer would work with this committee in looking at the new census figures and help them draw the new lines,” Jaime said.
Jaime said he recommended each board member appoint one community member and one alternate from each of their districts.
“The way our timeline goes the college has to have everything in place by mid-October,” Gay said.
Staff Writer Roman Flores can be reached at 760-337-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org