Why is the voting process changing?
The City of West Covina has entered into a settlement agreement that changes the way voters choose their leadership from the City's current at-large elections to geographically defined districts elections. The objective of the District Election Mapping process is to ensure compliance with the California Voting Rights Act and ensure minority votes are not diluted. The City will hold at least four public hearings and two rounds of community meetings during the process.
What is the Voting Rights Act and why is it important?
The Voting Rights Act is federal legislation adopted in the 1960s protecting the rights of all citizens to participate in the voting process. This legislation has provisions ensuring underrepresented groups have equal opportunities for voting and representation. The California Voting Rights Act has additional provisions with the purpose of ensuring equal access to voting and representation. All City activities used to create these newly formed voting districts will follow and comply with both the spirit and letter of the law, including those laid out by both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts.
What are district-based elections?
Each of the newly developed Council districts will be represented by a single Council Member living within that district chosen by the voters of that district. Therefore, City elections will provide a new opportunity for geographic and demographic representation based on each district’s constituents.
Why by-district voting rather than “at-large” voting?
District elections allow City Council representation across defined geographic sections of the City, providing opportunities for representation in communities that may not always have had a Council Member from their neighborhood. Those communities and areas which believe they have issues unique to them may choose their own representation within those district boundaries.
What will be the process for creating voting districts?
The process will have both a technical and community input component completed in tandem to define and create the best recommendation for creating the district boundaries. The technical process requires the formation of nearly equal districts based on population (ideally within 5 percent from smallest to largest). However, other factors also play a major role including: topography, geography, cohesiveness, contiguity, compactness, integrity of territory, communities of interest and significant and sensitive land uses.
Community participation is vital to ensure proper formation of the districts. An assortment of materials, meetings and other social media communication tools will be utilized to inform and engage the public throughout the technical process. This will include a minimum of two rounds of public workshops as well as an opportunity for interested individuals to prepare their own suggested maps and submit them directly to National Demographics Corporation (the demographer hired to assist the City with this process) to provide direct input on boundary lines.
Who will approve the final districts?
The consultant team hired to complete the technical study, National Demographics Corporation, will provide a written report that City staff will use to provide the City Council with a recommendation, following community meetings, public input and public hearings. Ultimately, City Council will determine which map best reflects the City’s neighborhoods.
What is a community of interest?
A community of interest is any distinctive area within the City that has a definable group of people, unique geography or some other distinguishable feature or characteristic that it would be undesirable to divide in the creation of voting districts. Some of these may already be clearly established and others may be defined as a result of this process. This distinction requires strong community input to ensure communities of interest are protected in this process. For example, the Galster Wilderness Park is a definable area that the community may believe should not be split by a district boundary.
When will these new districts take effect?
The new voting districts will immediately take effect. However, the first election to be held using these newly formed districts would occur in November 2018.
How will creating voting districts affect me?
Beginning in 2018, residents in the City of West Covina will have the opportunity to vote for candidates who run in the district in which they live. Once elected, these City Council Members will provide direct representation of the unique population, issues and challenges found within each of the districts.
Why is my participation important?
This process, and the resulting decisions, are critical to the leadership and future of West Covina. It is important that these voting district boundaries clearly and accurately represent the varying geographic areas and unique demographic groups found within our community. Your participation will help bring clarity to the process and help better understand the issues important to you as we look at volumes of data to help create balanced and representative districts.
How will my input be used?
Your input will help inform the technical process which will be based on a collection of data and analytics. We will ask you to share with us what is important to you, where you think the boundaries should go to protect communities of interest and other clarifying questions that will help us in the development of voting district recommendations.
Where can I learn more about the process and get additional information including scheduled public meetings?
For this process, the City has set up a host of communication tools and ways for the public to receive information and provide input. The City has established a project webpage at www.westcovina.org/districts. All meeting information and project materials will be posted on the website for your review. You can also e-mail us with a comment or question at, email@example.com. You may access the Public Participation Kits on our website and send your proposed map to the City or to the demographers at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, please call 626-939-8401.