What is the City of Richmond’s current election system?
The City of Richmond uses an at-large election system that allows all registered voters in the City to elect Councilmembers and the Mayor.
What are district elections?
For Richmond, the City would be divided into six separate districts, and only the voters that live within each district get to elect a City Councilmember from that district.
The Mayor would continue to be elected at-large.
Why is the City of Richmond considering going from at-large to district elections?
On September 11, 2019, the City of Richmond received a letter from Attorney At Law Scott J. Rafferty alleging that its at-large council member electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). This type of letter is the first step a party must take to later bring a CVRA lawsuit against a City. While the City is confident that its current electoral system does not run afoul of the CVRA or any other provision of law, the City Council has determined that the public interest would be best served by considering the transition to a district-based electoral system because:
(1) The high cost to defend against a CVRA lawsuit,
(2) The risk of losing such a lawsuit, which would require the City to pay the prevailing plaintiffs' attorneys' fees, and
(3) A jurisdiction can limit the amount of its liability to prospective plaintiffs and their attorneys to a maximum amount of $30,000 for reimbursable expenses and costs (the "safe harbor provision")