ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Fullerton Over District Elections

Two civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit against the city of Fullerton Wednesday, arguing that the city’s at-large elections violate the rights of Asian American voters under the California Voting Rights Act.

Asian Americans make up 23 percent of the city of Fullerton and 20.9 percent of the citizen voting age population, yet no Asians currently serve on the city council, argues the complaint filed by the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angeles-based advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

“This overall absence of any Asian American representatives on the City Council, despite the fact that they were the preferred candidate of Asian American voters, reveals the lack of meaningful access for Asian Americans to the political process in Fullerton,” reads the complaint, brought on behalf of  Korean American resident and community organizer Jonathan Paik.

The complaint contends that disparities in socio-economic status, language and a history of racial discrimination against Asian Americans further impacts their voting strength.

The complaint cites a number of incidents, including a 1995 Department of Justice investigation that found racial discrimination in hiring practices by the Fullerton Police Department.

It also pointed to a negative campaign flier circulated during the 2014 election against Korean American Young Kim, now a State Assemblywoman, which featured the phrase “Not One of Us” next to Kim’s photo.

The ACLU complaint seeks a court declaration that Fullerton’s at-large voting system violates the Voting Rights Act, as well as a requirement that the city implement district elections.

Read the full complaint on the ACLU website.