Facing a potential lawsuit from a Latino legal advocacy group, the Garden Grove City Council on Tuesday voted to hire a demographics firm to determine whether or not there is racially polarized voting in Garden Grove.

Council members voted 3-1 to approve a $17,200 contract with the Dolinka Group, with Councilman Phat Bui voting no.  He preferred to hire a different company, National Demographics Corporation.

The move is just the first step in the city’s potential shift from at-large to by-district elections, after the Latino legal rights group MALDEF threatened to sue the city under the California Voting Rights Act if it didn’t implement district elections.

If the firm’s analysis shows polarized voting – or a difference between the candidate choices between a protected class and the rest of the electorate – the council would then be required by law to implement by-district elections and begin the process of dividing the city into districts.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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