A legal war is being waged in California's Central Valley to give Latino voters more power.
It could transform the way elections are conducted for school boards, city councils, hospital districts and other public agencies, races that traditionally have been decided by white voters.
To achieve their goal, activists are suing under a little-used law, the California Voting Rights Act, in Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. They already have sued Modesto and are threatening to sue the Ceres Unified School District.
The act requires public agencies to allow elections by districts if it's proven that at-large elections, as opposed to voting district by district, lessen the chances for a minority candidate to win.
Already, the activists have won in the Madera Unified School District, where trustees decided last month to halt the upcoming November election until voting by district can be established.
For decades, Latino activists wanted to change the voting system. They contend candidates favored by minorities lose elections to white candidates who have the money to finance citywide campaigns.
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