District-Based Election System

Introduction

On May 8, 2017, the Murrieta City Council took action to consider transitioning to a district-based voting system to elect its City Council Members, replacing its current at-large election system. The City of Murrieta will begin phasing-in district-based elections over two election cycles starting in November of 2018, with full implementation in 2020.

Use this Interactive Map to locate your district.

Results

Background

On March 27, 2017, the City of Murrieta ("City") received a letter from Kevin L. Shenkman of the law firm of Shenkman and Hughes. The letter asserted that the City's, then City-wide (or "at-large") voting system was not in compliance with the California Voting Right Act (Election Code § 14025 et seq.) (CVRA). The letter demanded that the City transition from at-large to district-based City Council elections and threatened litigation if that demand was not met.

View the Letter from Kevin L. Shenkman of the law firm of Shenkman and Hughes (PDF).

Historically, Murrieta has utilized an at-large election system in which electors from the entire city would choose each of the five City Council Members. In a district-based election system the city is divided into separate geographic districts, each with one City Council Member who resides in the district and is chosen by the electors residing in that district.

Process

Under Government Code § 34886 and Elections Code § 10010, the process of conversion consists of: two public hearings; the drawing of draft maps; two additional public hearings; and finally, adoption of an ordinance selecting a district map and establishing the process by which staggered district elections will be implemented. Following these guidelines, if approved, a district-based election system could be phased in over two election cycles starting in November of 2018 with full implementation in 2020. Each district would elect one City Council Member to a four-year term.

Resolution of Intention

On May 8, 2017, the City Council adopted a Resolution of Intention (ROI) stating that the City would consider establishing district- based elections for City Council Members. Under statutory safe harbor provisions, the process of conversion proceeds as follows:

  1. First public hearing (to be held immediately following adoption of the ROI)
  2. Second public hearing (within 30 days of first public hearing)
  3. Release draft map or maps to the public (not less than 7 days before 3rd public hearing)
  4. Third public hearing
  5. Fourth public hearing (within 45 days of the release of draft map(s))
  6. Introduction and adoption of implementing ordinance (adoption must occur within 90 days of the ROI and not less than 7 days after release of final map to be adopted)

In order to stay within the State's safe harbor protections and avoid potentially costly legal exposure in the event of a CVRA challenge, this process must be completed within a short 90-day window. Initiating the process does not require that the City convert to district-based elections. The City Council must subsequently adopt an ordinance to accomplish that result. By remaining within the timing constraints of the safe-harbor statute, the City will limit its exposure to potential litigants if it ultimately transitions to district-based voting.

By-District Voting Schedule

The following schedule was adopted for consideration of the transition to by-district voting within the safe-harbor window.

Date
Event
Comments
May 8, 2017

Day 1: Resolution of Intention (ROI) - Adopted

CVRA action cannot be commenced for 90 days
May 16, 20171st Public Hearing

Re: Composition of Districts (no maps yet drawn)

June 6, 2017

2nd Public Hearing (within 30 days of the 1st public hearing)

Re: Composition of Districts (no maps yet drawn)

June 13, 2017

Post Draft Maps and Potential Sequence of Elections

N/A
June 20, 20173rd Public HearingRe: Draft Maps

No later than July 11, 2017

Post Any Amended Maps (7 days before 4th Public Hearing)

N/A
July 18, 2017

4th Public Hearing - Select Map Introduction of Ordinance establishing district elections, including District Boundaries and Election Sequence

Re: Draft Maps - If selected maps are amended, Ordinance cannot be introduced until 7 days after the amended map is published

August 1, 2017Adoption of Ordinance (at a Regular Meeting)N/A
August 6, 2017Day 90CVRA action may be commenced if Ordinance converting to district-based voting has not been adopted.
August 1, 2017Adopted Ordinance converting to district-based voting.
November 6, 20182018 Municipal ElectionBegan the first phase of the City's transition to district-based City Council elections with three City Council Members being elected from Districts 1, 2, and 5
November 3, 20202020 Municipal ElectionThe City's transition to district-based City Council elections will be complete with two City Council Members being elected from Districts 3, and 4