As other Coachella Valley cities have moved to district-based elections, Palm Desert has not. This despite a lawsuit filed claiming that the city’s at-large election system is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. While the council could just simply have a vote on moving to district-based elections, the Desert Sun reports they have chosen instead to try to settle the lawsuit and have public hearings over the next few months – and why could that be? Well…
The lawsuit claims the city has violated the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 and states that the city’s at-large voting system prevents Latino residents from electing candidates of their choice or influencing the outcome of Palm Desert’s City Council elections.
According to Data USA, about 65.2 percent — or 33,700 — of Palm Desert’s 51,700 residents are white and 25.9 percent — or 13,400 — are Hispanic or Latino.
Palm Desert’s City Council, which includes four women, has no Latino members.
The firm behind the lawsuit, Shenkman & Hughes, sent a letter urging the city to voluntarily change to district-based elections in 2018. The city did not publicly respond to that letter.