Audio: Lauren Boyer
The county’s newly implemented redistricting map will not be overturned after being challenged for alleged gerrymandering and unfair voter representation, Judge Rita Federman ruled late on Feb. 9.
In her briefing, Federman outlined the reasons for keeping the new map.
She said she recognized the “time constraints” to instate a different map than the one voted on by the county’s board of supervisors, particularly with the June primary election coming up. Redistricting maps have to be completed by Feb. 15 and are administered to the court reporter.
The court hearing on the morning of Feb. 9 saw the debate over the new map between SLO Citizens for Good Government and the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. The citizens’ group argued that the redistricting map voted into place in December favored Republican voters and threatened equal voter representation, Mustang News previously reported.
The citizens’ group supported the continued use of a 2011 map, as they argued the population had not increased enough for there to be a new map drawn up.
[aesop_image img=”https://mustangnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Screen-Shot-2022-02-09-at-3.17.13-PM.png” panorama=”off” imgwidth=”500px” credit=”San Luis Obispo County | Courtesy” align=”left” lightbox=”off” captionsrc=”custom” caption=”San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved a new county district map in December. The black outline represents the previous map used, and the magenta outline is the new map currently being challenged.” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]
In response, Federman’s report states that the map from 2011 “is not the existing map at the present time. Nor does it… take into account the current mandatory factors that apply to redistricting decisions today.”
“[Although] the Board failed to comply with the procedure required by law… the Court does not presume to dictate how the Board should evaluate any proffered evidence of discriminatory purpose,” Federman wrote in the report.
Additionally, Federman referenced the settings in which a preliminary injunction would be granted, as that was the basis for the Citizens’ lawsuit. Because of the time constraints, an injunction was not warranted.
According to the San Luis Obispo County website, there will be a court conference on March 14 to conclude whether the map will be used in following elections or not.
Attorney Linda Seifert of the Citizen’s Group said that there was some disappointment over Federman’s decision.
“When you deprive people of the right to vote or that when you create gerrymandered districts that could impact the politics going forward…that’s irreparable harm,” Seifert said.
According to Seifert, the group has a pending appeal in the Court of Appeals, while the application for appeal sent to the California Supreme Court on Monday was denied.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include information from a representative of the Citizens’ Group.