CVRA: By-Trustee Area Voting
What is CVRA?
Senate Bill 976, also known as the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA), signed into law in 2002, 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” election system. If the court finds against a jurisdiction, the jurisdiction must change its election system to a “by-trustee area” election system and pay the plaintiff’s attorneys, experts, and other expenses. Jurisdictions that fought CVRA claims have paid settlement or judgment amounts ranging from $3,000 to over $4 million.
Why Transition to By-Trustee Area Elections?
While the district does not believe that its current form of elections violates the CVRA, it does believe that it is in the public interest to begin the process to transition from at-large to by-trustee area elections to minimize the future potential for impermissible racially-polarized voting or legal claims. The only election system that provides Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) complete protection from a CVRA legal claim is a by-trustee area election system.