Local Residents and Advocacy Groups File Lawsuit Against Riverside County

Carmela Karcher

“There was nobody else who was going to do it,” Executive Director Michael Gomez Daly of Inland Empire United said.

A lawsuit filed for “diluting voices.”

“It’s quite interesting, the communities that were left out,” American Civil Liberties Union SoCal Senior Staff Attorney, Julia Gomez, shared.

On Tuesday, six Latino residents and local advocacy group, Inland Empire United, filed a lawsuit against the county of Riverside in response to its newly adopted redistricting plan.

After hearing about this lawsuit and doing its own analysis, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California decided to back them.

“The map essentially cracks Latino communities on the west side into three different districts,” Gomez continued. “Riverside County has what’s called Racially Polarized Voting, where Latinos tend to support one set of candidates, the majority tends to support the opposite candidates. Unless you draw a district where Latinos are the majority of the voting age population, they can’t elect candidates of choice. So in cracking Latinos among three districts, what Riverside has done essentially has made it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for folks around Jurupa Valley on one end, and around Moreno Valley on the other to elect their preferred candidates.”

Meanwhile, Inland Empire United has their own thoughts on why the county went forward with the maps.

“I think to protect their own incumbencies to make their elections easier,” Gomez Daly said. “They were not shy about it. They mentioned it multiple times.”

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia has been a major opponent of the plan, voicing his disapproval of the new districts and shared a statement with NBC Palm Springs saying, “The Latino community makes up a majority of Riverside County’s population, and this should have been equitably reflected in the redistricting process. Riverside County’s redistricting process must be held accountable to the law and cannot split up and disenfranchise opportunities for Latino communities.”

Although the Primary Election has already passed, they hope this lawsuit can bring about change and proper Latino representation.

“We hope that now this is public and that there’s a lawsuit on the table that the supervisors will settle and do the right thing and adopt maps that are truly equitable and will result in fair representation,” Gomez Daly continued. “If not, we hope the courts will take the necessary action and force the supervisors to do so.”

“Our hope is that we’ll get a map that unites the communities into a district where those folks can have an opportunity, not guaranteed, but at least an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates,” Gomez said. “I think the law is on our side that that’s what should have happened.”

Riverside County has since released a statement, saying, “The county has not yet received this lawsuit, and will thoroughly review the matter once received. It’s important to note that the county went through a rigorous statistical analysis by well-respected experts and consultants to ensure that all voters have a meaningful ability to elect the candidates of their choice. This method included analyzing citizen voting age population data, a racially polarized voting analysis and an opportunity to elect a report, in addition to holding many community meetings and public hearings, to ensure that residents have fair and equal representation. The new supervisorial map is fully compliant with the Federal Voting Rights Act and the California Fair Maps Act, and it has at least two effective Latino ability-to-elect districts.”

Since voting for the Primary Election has already passed, ACLU hopes to get a new map in time for the election in June of 2024.

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