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SoCal ACLU Says New Riverside County Board of Supervisors Map Violates Voting Rights Act

Background Picture: Photos By Clark - Flickr Creative Commons
Seal: Riverside County Board of Supervisors
Seal of Riverside County Board of Supervisors over a picture of the Salton Sea.

Earlier this month, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved its new redistricted supervisor map, which some civil rights groups have heavily opposed.

Map F was chosen from 31 different options by the Supervisors and comes as voting district maps across the country are being redrawn because of the 2020 Census.

Julia Gomez is a staff attorney with ACLU Southern California and says the organization opposes the choice of Map F. She said, “What it really comes down to is the fact that Map F continues to crack the Latino community in Riverside, and it creates a map where Latino voters do not have the representation that they should have for their size.”

Riverside Supervisorial District Boundaries 2021 Map and Report v1-images.jpg
County of Riverside
The final map that was approved by the County of Riverside Board of Supervisors.

The group says the chosen map goes against the Voting Rights Act of 1966 and that the county should have created two majority Latino voting population districts in the county.

That said, the county says they did create two. Brooke Federico is a Public Information Officer for Riverside County. “The final map does have at least two effective Latino opportunity to elect districts. And all of this work again was achieved as a result of the focus and dedication from a team committed to ensuring that we achieve fair and equal representation,” said Federico.

Community Draft Map 1.4-images.jpg
County of Riverside
The map that was supported by Supervisor Perez and SoCal ACLU.

Federico emphasized that the county was following all the laws that govern the redistricting process.

Gomez refutes that claim and refers to district four Supervisor Manuel Perez, the first and only Latino County Supervisor ever to serve in the County. Perez represents the Coachella Valley and the entire east side of the county.

Gomez added, “The county has been incorrectly counting Supervisor Perez’s district (in) what they call a Latino Opportunity to elect district. But it is not that, so district four, I just want to be very clear, it is not (a) Latino majority (district).”

She says district four only has a 39% Latino voting population and says Riverside County could have created two such districts on the west side of the county but only made one.

V. Manuel Perez.jpg
Peter Phun
County of Riverside
Official portrait of District 4 Supervisor Manuel Perez

Supervisors Perez was the only one to vote against Map F. The Supervisors who voted yes could not be reached for comment, but Supervisor Perez says the leading factor in Map F’s approval was because it was not splitting up cities like Riverside into multiple districts.

Supervisor Perez said, “And then ultimately the last piece of that is they really do not like the fact, none of us do, like the fact that communities of interest are being broken up. That communities, cities, unfortunately, would have maybe two up to three supervisors.”

Supervisor Perez added that keeping cities together is important, but that equal district populations and following the Voters Rights Act have higher priority.

He said he also voted no because he wants to keep local control. “What that means is that if there is a lawsuit and we lose in that lawsuit, a judge from outside the area is ultimately going to decide our fate as a county and how those lines are going to be drawn.”

So far, no lawsuits have been announced by ACLU Southern California or other groups.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.