Amid a flurry of last-minute action on legislation awaiting his signature, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have expanded the ability of minority groups to sue under the state's Voting Rights Act.
SB 1365, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), would have amended the law to also allow challenges to systems in which officials are elected by district. A judge could then order the local government to redraw district lines or increase the number of seats on the elected body to ensure minority voters would be treated equally.
Under current law, challenges to district-based voting systems may only be filed in federal court.
Advocacy groups have since argued for a second district, noting that Latinos make up nearly half the population of the county. A majority of the current board has resisted drawing new district boundaries to accomplish that.
Padilla's bill was backed by a coalition of advocacy groups, but critics argued that it was poorly written and could open the whole California Voting Rights Act to legal challenges.
In his veto message, Brown wrote, "While there is progress to be made, the federal Voting Rights Act and the California Voting Rights Act already provide important safeguards to ensure that the voting strength of minority communities is not diluted."