CYPRESS, California – The city of Cypress is considering a switch to a district election system after facing a lawsuit alleging that the current at-large system disenfranchises Asian American voters. This move is part of a larger trend in California, where voting rights groups have been advocating for local governments to transition away from at-large systems that they argue disproportionately impact voters of color. While many cities have complied with legal threats and lawsuits, Cypress, along with the city of Brea, initially resisted the change.
However, the Cypress City Council is expected to vote on a settlement agreement regarding the lawsuit challenging their election system. They will also vote on a resolution expressing their intention to switch to district voting and establish electoral districts. City officials have defended the current at-large system, stating that it allows voters to select all members of the City Council, a right they have enjoyed throughout the city’s history.
Under the proposed settlement agreement, Cypress would implement district elections by the November 2024 election and create a map with public input that divides the city into five election districts. The estimated cost for this transition is approximately $100,000.
The debate over district elections comes after a California Supreme Court ruling last year against the City of Santa Monica in a similar case. The ruling has significantly decreased the likelihood of Cypress’ at-large election system being found in compliance with the California Voting Rights Act.
The lawsuit against Cypress was filed by two residents, along with the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, alleging that the at-large system violates the California Voting Rights Act and disenfranchises Asian American voters. Cypress officials have disputed these claims, arguing that no areas in the city have a high concentration of any protected class under the state’s voting rights act.
While Cypress and Brea have pushed back against the switch to district elections, other cities in Orange County, such as Anaheim, Garden Grove, San Juan Capistrano, Fullerton, Orange, and Santa Ana, have already made the transition.
In conclusion, Cypress is considering a switch to a district election system in response to a lawsuit alleging voter disenfranchisement of Asian Americans. The city council is expected to vote on a settlement agreement and a resolution expressing their intention to switch to district voting. The proposed implementation of district elections would occur by the November 2024 election.