The Palm Springs City Council voted 3-2 Monday evening to adopt a voting district boundary map, the culmination of the city’s yearlong transition from at-large to district-based elections.
The final map, titled “Middleton Test 6b – D2/D3 swap,” caps off a process that began earlier this year, which included drafting a series of map proposals based on input from city officials and Palm Springs residents.
A copy of the final map can be viewed at www.psdistricts.com.
Mayor Robert Moon and Councilman J.R. Roberts voted no.
Beginning with the November 2019 general municipal election, voters in districts 1, 2 and 3 will elect city council members to four-year terms.
Districts 4 and 5 will begin voting for their candidates starting November 2021. Council members who were elected at-large will continue to serve until their terms expire.
The move to district elections comes after a voting rights group threatened litigation against the city earlier this year, alleging that Palm Springs is violating the California Voting Rights Act by conducting at-large elections.
A letter from the nonprofit Southwest Voter Registration Education Project asserted that at-large elections “diminished the ability of Latino residents to impact elections and has resulted in racially polarized voting.”
Though city officials denied the nonprofit’s contentions, they noted that municipalities that chose to fight litigious threats of that sort often lose, citing the northern Los Angeles County city of Palmdale, which lost a court battle over the matter and was forced to make the switch, as well as pay millions of dollars in legal fees.
Similar notices were sent to Cathedral City and Indio in recent years, prompting both municipalities to conduct their first district-based elections this year.
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