Election districts for the board of supervisors in Kern County illegally dilute the voting power of Latinos and deprive them of an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, a federal judge said Friday.
U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd struck down Kern County's 2011 redistricting plan, saying it was not "equally open to participation by Latino voters."
The ruling came in a lawsuit by the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund against the Central Valley county. An email after hours to the county's attorney, Mark Nations, was not immediately returned.
MALDEF argued that the boundary between two districts in the county broke up a large Latino community in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
"Today's decision should stand as a warning to other counties in California, a number of which also failed to comply with the Voting Rights Act during the last round of redistricting," Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF said in a statement. "The growing Latino community is entitled to representation, and drawing lines to protect incumbents risks costly litigation to secure an eventual remedy to protect voters' rights."