A federal judge has sided with Orange County and rebuffed claims that elected officials had diluted Hispanic voting power in drawing its new County Commission districts, sources say.
The voting rights lawsuit was filed against the county by local Hispanic residents and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a New York City civil rights group.
A county official said moments ago that the federal judge threw the case out, and sided with the county. A spokesman from LatinoJustice, John Garcia, said he’d received word from one of the group’s lead attorneys, who said “it didn’t look good.”
Court records indicate the judge issued her verbal ruling this morning at about 11 a.m., after a sixth day of testimony in the case. Chief Judge Anne C. Conway will later issue a full opinion, records show.
The plaintiffs alleged that Orange leaders in 2011 crafted new political borders that diluted Hispanic voting strength.
Namely, they point to a District 3 seat that had been held by Hispanics in recent decades. And despite a surge in Latinos countywide during the past 10 years, District 3 actually saw its percentage of Hispanics drop after redistricting.
Lawyers for Orange County say the new borders actually created two districts — 3 and 4 — where Hispanics now have a shot to win. The districts both now have more than 40 percent Hispanic populations, a number large enough in the past to elect two different Latinos to District 3, they say.