Was It Worth the Effort? Did Changing Election Methods Make a Difference? Demography, Race, and Ethnicity in the Political Arena
Jeanne Gobalet, Lapkoff & Gobalet Demographic Research, Inc.
A decade after helping two California community college districts change election methods from at-large to single-member district election of trustees in 1991, we wondered if it had made a difference. The election method change resulted from a desire to satisfy Section 2 requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act (giving protected minority groups who are geographically concentrated and politically cohesive the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice). We studied the extent to which each college district's board of trustees included members of protected groups (chiefly Hispanics/Latinos) during the decade before the election method change (the 1980s) and the decade after the change (the 1990s). We also studied whether the number of minority candidates for office was greater during the 1990s than during the previous decade.