5 Years Later, Santa Barbarans Reflect on Goals, Outcomes of Switch to District Elections

In 2014, activists enlisted the help of attorneys and filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Barbara for violating the California Voting Rights Act by diluting Latino votes. To avoid a costly legal battle, the city agreed to switch to district-based elections where local officials are selected by the actual neighborhoods they will represent rather than the city at-large. These elections ensure neighborhoods will be represented by officials that have intimate knowledge of the area’s needs and have led to dramatic increases in the diversity of elected officials in terms of ethnicity, age and gender.

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