September 21, 2020

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Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act Filed in Federal Court

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Theo tin The Project on Fair Representation trong prnewswire.com

CVRA violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution

AUSTIN, TEXAS (PRWEB) OCTOBER 03, 2017 A new research report by Texans for Voter Choice (TVC) demonstrates that voter rights guaranteed by the Texas Constitution are being undermined by the state’s ballot access laws, which impose some of the most restrictive regulatory and financial barriers in the nation. TVC reviewed all State Senate and House races in November general elections between 1992-2016. Data shows that in the State Senate – 30% of the races – and in the State House – 48% of the races – millions of Texans were denied the right to cast a meaningful vote because there was only one candidate on the ballot. As explained in the report: THE DENIAL OF VOTER CHOICE IN THE LONE STAR STATE- HOW VOTING RIGHTS GUARANTEED BY THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION ARE SYSTEMATICALLY the current process protects incumbents and reinforces the status quo by giving Republican and Democratic party candidates automatic access to the ballot through taxpayer subsidized primaries. At the same time, it subjects their potential challengers to a regulatory scheme so complicated and onerous that merely attempting to participate in the electoral process drains the resources of all but the wealthiest candidates or parties. New or minor parties are required to comply with high signature requirements, a short signature collection window, early filing deadlines as well as a long and complicated list of additional requirements and restrictions. In 2016 they could expect to pay a minimum of $210,000, and an independent candidate for president $360,000 primarily because this necessitates the hiring of professional petition circulators who currently charge at least $3 per signature. The report’s findings raise serious questions with respect to whether Texas ballot access laws violate Article 1. Sec 2, and Art. 6. Sec. 2(c) provisions of the Texas Constitution. How can Texans “alter, reform or abolish their government” a right protected in Article 1. Section 2 when they have no meaningful choice about whom they elect to represent them? What does the state constitutional guarantee of free suffrage in Article 6 section 2(c) mean when in almost half of the elections for the state house over the last 24 years, voters were denied a meaningful vote because there was one candidate running unopposed on the ballot? How can the five million Texans not associated with a political party cast a meaningful vote when their perspective is not represented on the ballot? “The Texas Voter Choice Act, HB 3608, was introduced in the Texas House in 2017 to restore and protect voter rights by establishing reasonable signature requirements and filing deadlines for all candidates, while eliminating the unnecessary procedural barriers that make obtaining ballot access so burdensome and expensive for candidates running outside the taxpayer subsidized Republican and Democratic primaries. Supporters expect the bill to be reintroduced in 2019. Read the full report here: http://texasvoterchoice.org.WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, the Project on Fair Representation announces the filing of a new lawsuit in California federal court challenging the constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The CVRA was passed by the California Legislature in 2001 in an attempt to overrule and circumvent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that limit the use of race and ethnicity in the creation of election districts. The CVRA has recently been utilized by a handful of attorneys to demand that dozens of California localities to abandon longstanding, at-large forms of voting systems in favor of race-based, single-member districts. The complaint can be found at Projectonfairrepresentation.org. The lawsuit asserts that the California Legislature did not follow Supreme Court decisions making clear that race cannot be the predominant factor in redistricting. The complaint emphasizes that the CVRA makes race the only factor in redistricting. A few months ago, the City of Poway, California received a demand letter notifying it that the City would be sued under the CVRA unless it ended its at-large form of city council elections and created race-based, single-member districts instead. Because the City faced the prospect of millions of dollars in legal fees unless it capitulated, on October 3, 2017, the City Council created four single-members election districts. The new districts were racially gerrymandered in order to meet the requirements of the CVRA. As the Supreme Court has explained: “Racial gerrymandering, even for remedial purposes, may balkanize us into competing racial factions; it threatens to carry us further away from the goal of a political system in which race no longer matters—a goal that the Fourteenth Amendment embodies, and to which the nation continues to aspire.” The plaintiff in the case is former Poway mayor Don Higginson. He has sued the State of California and the City of Poway. Higginson said, “It was only because the City of Poway had a proverbial gun to its head that these districts were adopted. Every member of the City Council knew that it would cost Poway millions of taxpayer dollars to fight this in court.” The complaint notes that on June 7, 2017, Poway received a certified letter from attorney Kevin Shenkman asserting that Poway’s at-large system violates the CVRA because—and only because—of “racially polarized” voting in City Council elections. Shenkman’s letter reminded Poway that, in the recent past, the City of Palmdale had been forced to pay millions of dollars in legal fees after it lost in court. Higginson added, “These new districts will compel city council members to only represent the people who live in certain neighborhoods and not consider what’s best for all of Poway. This is not how small communities stay united for the benefit of all citizens, regardless of their race and ethnicity.” Higginson noted, “Every voter in Poway should feel personally offended by the fact that being forced to go to district elections will eliminate your power to vote for a majority of the Poway City Council. Furthermore, through threat of litigation, scores of other cities and school districts across the State have been—and will continue to be—subject to this same damaging result.” Higginson concluded, “Unfortunately, the City felt that it had no ability to challenge Mr. Shenkman’s demand, even though the Council members were quite clear that, but for the CVRA, the City would not have switched to by-district elections. Nevertheless, as an affected voter, I do have the ability and felt compelled to challenge the constitutionality of the CVRA under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I trust that the courts will give this matter the careful attention and review it deserves.” The Project on Fair Representation (POFR), a nonprofit legal foundation based in Arlington, Virginia, has provided counsel to Mr. Higginson. During the last few years, POFR has provided counsel in a number of voting rights cases heard by the US Supreme Court including Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder, Shelby Co. Ala. v. Holder, and Evenwel v. Abbott. Edward Blum, POFR’s president said, “The California Voting Rights Act forces jurisdictions to make race the sole factor in districting. It splits apart multi-ethnic, multi-racial neighborhoods in order to create gerrymandered voting districts. This is bad for all citizens, regardless of their race or ethnicity.” Blum added, “This law is clearly unconstitutional.” Blum encourages other Poway residents who are interested in learning more about the lawsuit to email him at contactpofr@gmail.com. The law firm of Consovoy McCarthy Park, PLLC of Arlington, Virginia is counsel to Mr. Higginson. Contact: Edward Blum (703) 505-1922 SOURCE The Project on Fair Representation

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