Districts Abandoning At-Large School Board Elections
Luis Carlos Ayala treks up and down hilly driveways in a local neighborhood on a recent weeknight, going door to door to deliver his short campaign spiel and a flier. The school board candidate touts his titles and duties: parent, husband, lawyer, teacher, and a list of accolades and credentials he hopes will sway voters to select him over a two-term incumbent in the election here March 5.
Even though the 18,650-student Pasadena Unified district serves a locale of more than 202,300 residents, Mr. Ayala aims to reach voters in an area of only 28,900 for this race, as a result of the school district's recent switch from at-large elections—in which voters can cast ballots for any candidate—to trustee or "district" elections, in which voters select a candidate on the basis of where they live.
Pasadena's election switch follows an increasing number of others in California school districts, influenced by the 2001 California Voting Rights Act , which prohibits localities from running at-large elections if they hinder minority groups from electing...
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