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Amicus Brief Democracy & Voting Rights

Higginson v. Poway

The UCLA Voting Rights Projects aims to provide the court with essential legal and academic information that has not already been brought up to the court.




California and the City of Poway fought to defend the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) after trying to move to by-district voting in place of its voting at-large system. Former Poway Mayor Don Higginson sued the state and city after a new voting system was implemented claiming that it violated 14th amendment Equal Protection clause. Therefore, UCLA VRP submitted this brief in an attempt to bring new critical information to the court.

The CVRA, passed in 2001, is meant to lessen the burden for minorities that reside in counties that vote at-large. In electing members at large it creates voter dilution for minority communities. With that being said, CVRA does not single out any specific racial or ethnic group. Traditionally, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans use the CVRA to create remedies that will give the opportunity to elect their preferred candidate, since they usually have lower rates of representation. However, there are now some places where whites are becoming the minority and being affected by the at-large system and are able to also use CVRA to create remedies. Thus proving that the CVRA protects everyone鈥檚 voting rights and ensures there is no voter dilution, despite what racial or ethnic group you are. Therefore, a state is allowed to have at-large elections as long as it does not come at the expense of a minority community, causing racially polarized voting. Lastly, UCLA VRP demonstrates that the map Poway adopted, Map 1133, splits the area of the city with the highest number of minority voters, rather than splitting up voters by their race. In other words, Poway does not take part in racial preferences. Taking everything into account, the federal constitution is not violated by CVRA.聽