Frequently Asked Questions

Question Mark Puzzle Piece

What is the difference between “at large” elections and “district” elections?

In an at-large election system, voters of the entire city elect all members of the City Council. In a “district” election system, the City is carvedinto geographic districts. Voters in each district then choose their City Council representative, who must also live in that district.

Why is Moorpark considering switching from "at large" elections to "district" elections?

On August 29, 2018, the City received a letter from Kevin I. Shenkman, alleging that the City's at-large election system was racially polarized, resulting in minority vote dilution against Latino, and threatened the City with litigation under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) if the City did not switch to a district-based election system.  Under a district-based system, the City would be broken into districts, with each district electing to the City Council an individual residing within its boundaries.

How have other cities responded to the threat of litigation?

Nearly every other city has changed its election method, voluntarily or by court order. Agencies that have attempted to defend their at-large election systems have incurred significant legal costs, including Palmdale ($4.7 million), Modesto ($3 million), Anaheim ($1.1 million), Santa Barbara ($600,000), and West Covina ($220,000).  Locally, Oxnard and Ventura voluntarily switched to district elections, and Simi Valley is in the process of switching to district elections.

What is the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)?

Adopted in 2002, the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) prohibits the use of any election system “that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.”  Jurisdictions can be sued if they elect their governing body using an at-large, from-districts, or mixed election system. If the court finds against a jurisdiction, the jurisdiction must change its election system and pay the plaintiff’s attorneys, experts, and other expenses.

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