On January 18, 2019, GBDH, along with Asian Law Alliance and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, sent a notice to the City of the Sunnyvale that three additional Asian American residents and voters were joining the ongoing challenge to the City’s at-large election system.
On October 2, 2018, the firm sent a notice letter on behalf of Samir Kalra, managing director of the Hindu American foundation and Sunnyvale resident, warning the City that its at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”).
The CVRA prohibits at-large elections where it impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice due to racially polarized voting. Racially polarized voting in Sunnyvale means the voting preferences of Asian American voters (a large voting block of the electorate) are different from those of white voters (the controlling block of the electorate). Sunnyvale has only ever elected three Asian Americans to its council, despite the fact that Asian Americans are currently about 45% of Sunnyvale’s total population and 33% of its eligible voters.
Newly added Sunnyvale resident Galen Kim Davis said, “I’m joining this critical effort to ensure that Asian American voters are not excluded in upcoming elections. I don’t want to see Sunnyvale dragging its feet when it comes to something as important as fair representation for all of Sunnyvale’s residents.
“We deserve a city council that reflects the full richness of our city,” said Samir Kalra. “I’m thrilled that our group is expanding, and doing so in a way that shows the diversity of the Asian American community.”
GBDH attorney Ginger Grimes said, “Though the Sunnyvale City Council has taken initial steps towards abandoning its at-large election system, we want to see the City adopt district elections in time for the next Council election in November 2020 to stop the dilutive effect of at-large elections and to begin empowering more segments of the Sunnyvale community.”
The notices to Sunnyvale were sent just months after a California Superior Court ordered neighboring City of Santa Clara to use district elections in its November 2018 council elections. In that case, GBDH and Asian Law Alliance, along with the Law Office of Robert Rubin, represented the plaintiffs.