Federal hearing on Kern County supervisor district lines set for Tuesday

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A hearing is set for Tuesday in federal court in Fresno, and the political stakes are high for voters in Kern County.

A U.S. District Court judge is expected to decide whether to force the county of Kern to redraw its supervisorial boundaries, with just 12 weeks to go before the June primary election.

"The federal court confirmed what the Latino community has known for years. That the current Board of Supervisors plan is illegal and discriminates against Latino voters," a plaintiff in the lawsuit, Dorothy Velasquez, told the Board of Supervisors.

Plaintiffs in the case were joined by dozens of advocates last Tuesday to pressure county supervisors to move forward and redraw supervisorial boundaries.

The lawsuit, filed in 2016 by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, argued the county violated the Voting Rights Act in 2011 by redrawing districts that essentially diluted the voting power of Latinos, depriving them of an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

U.S. District Court judge Dale Drozd agreed, but delayed a decision on when the districts should be redrawn before the June election or after the 2018 election cycle.

MALDEF is demanding immediate action, arguing there have already been three elections conducted illegally under the current boundaries.

County officials worry that redrawing boundaries now will cause political upheaval leading into the June election.

17 News will be in Fresno Tuesday to cover the hearing.

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