SMJUSD is moving from "At Large" to a "By-Trustee Area" Elections
The San Miguel Joint Union School District is transitioning from at-large elections to by-trustee area elections. Beginning in November 2022, residents will vote for a single Board of Trustee candidate residing in their newly drawn trustee area. The public is invited to provide input on the district formation mapping during public hearings.
On October 8, 2020, the Board voted to the converting the method by which Board members are elected and approved a process for commencing that conversion. Under the current "at-large" system, all registered voters within the District's boundaries vote for any candidate for all Board member seats. Under the new proposed system, candidates will be elected by “trustee areas.” This means only voters within a given trustee area can vote for candidates who reside within that same area. The intent of this proposed system is to offer greater opportunities for Board representation by candidates who might not otherwise be elected under an at-large system.
What is the CVRA?
The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) prohibits the use of an election system “that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.” Elected entities can be sued if their election systems result in racially polarized voting. If a court finds against an elected entity, the elected entity must change its election system and pay substantial attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses.
What is the difference between "At Large" and "By-Trustee Area" Elections?
The District currently implements an "at-large" election system where voters of the entire District elect all members of the School Board. A “by-trustee area” election system will carve the District into five (5) "by-trustee areas." Voters in each "by-trustee area" will choose their School Board representative, who must also live in that "by-trustee area."
The San Miguel Joint Union School District held two pre-map development public hearings on August 12, 2021 and September 9, 2021. The District also convened two Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Election Boundaries meetings on October 7, 2021 and October 28, 2021 at which the process was discussed and questions were answered.
The District will be holding two public hearings at which potential Trustee area scenarios will be presented. These meetings will be held on January 13, 2022 and February 7, 2022.
The Board of Trustees of the District waited for the census data to be complete and incorporated before the presentation of the maps. The maps to be presented in January and February will be incorporating the 2020 Census data.