The Palmdale City Council election has already been placed on November’s ballots sent out by Los Angeles County, but that doesn’t mean their votes will get counted, according to an attorney involved with the case.
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The two sides appear to be putting out conflicting information about what people can vote on in Palmdale on Nov. 5.
The City Council election has been ruled illegal, however, any other choices on a Palmdale voters’ ballot would remain unaffected.
Judge Mark V. Mooney ruled July 25 that Palmdale was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act with its at-large elections, showing racially polarized voting was denying minorities access to the electoral system.
Additionally, in order to address the violation, city officials must propose changes to their electoral process, the judge ruled.
Santa Clarita officials are also facing similar lawsuits from the same firm, which claim the same allegation — that at-large elections are limiting the access of Hispanic voters to the election.
Palmdale city officials maintain that the city will have their election, according to a statement by Palmdale city Spokesman John Mlynar.
“As phrased, the injunction written in the disjunctive, permits the defendant to hold an at-large election and even count the votes but not to certify the results,” Mlynar stated in an email.
However, the lead attorney for the plaintiff who’s claiming the violation says that that’s patently false, and a manipulation by city officials.
“(Mooney’s decision) prohibits the tabulation of the votes by anyone and it prohibits the certification of the results by anyone,” Shenkman said.
“I’m disappointed in the way the city of Palmdale is feeding misinformation to the residents of Palmdale,” he added.
The ballots that contain the Palmdale City Council race were put out before Mooney’s decision that the election was illegal, Shenkman said.
The discussion last week also included further discussion on what a court-ordered remedy might look like, Shenkman said.
“I think it’s safe to say that (Mooney) is going to order a special election, probably coinciding with the statewide primary, but definitely in 2014 perhaps as late as November,” Shenkman said.
“We asked for all five seats to come up,” he added.
The details haven’t been worked out, but if that were the case, then the precedent for an election could follow what happened in Santa Clarita when it first incorporated in 1987.
In that election, the top-three votegetters received four-year terms, and the bottom two served two-year terms.
Palmdale city officials did not return calls seeking comment for this story.
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Source: Santa Clarita News