Judge to determine voting districts for Santa Clara after possible system violation

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A Santa Clara County judge is hearing proposals to split the city up into districts after he determined the city's at-large voting system is inconsistent with the state and federal Voting Rights Acts. (KGO-TV)

A hearing was held Wednesday to draw the voting districts in one South Bay city to ensure fair representation for minority groups.

A Santa Clara County judge is hearing proposals for how to do that after siding with an Asian American group that the city of Santa Clara's at-large voting system violates state and federal law and discriminates against Asian Americans.

In June, Judge Thomas Kuhnle determined the at-large voting system in Santa Clara was inconsistent with the state and federal Voting Rights Acts. He also found there are no districts in the city and everyone votes for all six seats on the council, plus the mayor.

A hearing started for both sides to present their plans for dividing the city up into districts.

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The plaintiffs in the case say the votes of Asian Americans have been diluted because of the at-large voting system and added that they want seven districts.

They say there hasn't been an Asian American elected to the council in the city's history. "Whether or not that voter is Asian American is not really the point. The point is the voting group of Asian Americans really needs to be heard and need to have a seat at the table," said Richard Konda with the Asian Law Alliance.

Attorneys representing the city of Santa Clara are presenting three proposals to the Judge. Two are for two districts, but with differences in how many votes are cast per person. Their third proposal would break up the city into six districts.

They say doing too much in too short of a time could lead to grievous errors and unintended consequences.

The judge is expected to make his ruling by Friday.
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