Murrieta’s New Election Maps Don’t Look so Great for Minorities

The whole point of Murrieta’s switch from at large to district-based elections was to ensure greater minority representation. But, as the Press Enterprise noted last week, the district election maps just released by the city show no discernable benefit for the city’s Latino candidates. In fact, they show just the opposite.

The two maps — dubbed “green” and “yellow” — feature five districts each. All of the districts feature demographic breakdowns of around 55 percent non-Hispanic white, 25 percent Latino/Hispanic, 13 percent Asian-American and 7 percent African-American…

Of the two maps, the green option is the only one that features a district with Hispanic representation above 30 percent. That district, green’s District 4, encompasses all of downtown Murrieta and the neighborhoods just north of The Triangle. Hispanics make up 32 percent of that district and about 18 percent of the residents speak Spanish in the home.

Opponents of the switch have long argued that Murrieta’s landscape doesn’t lend itself well to such a change. On a broader note, critics argue the switch to district-based elections throughout the state has been underwhelming in terms of success.

The real issue comes down to turnout, not population, according to GrassrootsLab’s Mike Madrid.

“That’s what creates the gap,” Madrid said. “Legislators should do something to ameliorate that. It’s clear the voting rights act is not working as intended.”

The highest Latino voter turnout in the newly-formed districts according to 2014 data was just 15 percent.

Murrieta decided to switch to district elections to avoid a legal fight after receiving a letter from a Malibu-based law firm that has provoked similar shifts in a number of other cities.

This is not the end of the road. The maps will be revised again based on input the city received at its June 20 hearing.


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