Zone-Based Election System

As of November 2022, Members of ACWD's Board of Directors are Elected Based on Voting District Zones

Update 3.24.22

The Alameda County Water District Board of Directors transitioned from at-large to zone-based elections in 2022. Voters within the ACWD service area now elect their representatives on the ACWD Board based on which zone they are in, and voters only elect one representative for their zone.

Voters in zones 2 and 3 elect their representatives every four years beginning in November 2022.   Voters in zones 1, 4, and 5 elect their representatives every four years beginning in November 2024.

ACWD's Completed Transition for At-Large to Zone-Based Elections

Background

The Alameda County Water District Board of Directors has completed the transition from at-large to zone-based elections. Prior to this process, the Board of Directors was elected using an at-large elections system, which means voters of the entire District elected the five Board members. A zone-based election is one in which the District is divided into separate districts, each with one Board member who resides in the zone and is chosen by the voters in that particular zone.   Directors serve four-year staggered terms and are elected in even-numbered years.

The District received a letter from a law firm alleging that the District’s current at-large elections violate the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) (Elections Code §§ 14025-14032).  The CVRA prohibits the use of at-large elections if doing so impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or to influence the outcome of an election.  Numerous public agencies, including the District, have been contacted by private law firms alleging violations of the CVRA in a push to move agencies to district or zone-based election systems.  The District does not agree with these allegations with respect to elections of the District’s Board of Directors.  However, the Board desires that its members represent the interests and wishes of all residents within the jurisdiction of the District, and that the community have confidence that the Board continues to represent the interests and wishes of the District.  Therefore, on August 12, 2021, the Board adopted Resolution No. 21-050 declaring its intention to change from at-large to zone-based elections.  

The Transition Process

Community input and 2020 census data was used to determine how zones should be drawn.   To assist with the transition, the District hired Lapkoff & Gobalet Demographic Research, Inc. (Lapkoff and Gobalet), a firm that specializes in drawing election district boundaries for jurisdictions, also known as “districting.”

Many factors may be considered in developing the zones and draft maps.  Population equality is of primary importance, followed by the Federal Voting Rights Act’s prohibition of voting practices and procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group. Additionally, other factors include:

  • Topography: natural barriers, boundaries or landmarks
  • Geography: major streets and neighborhood blocks
  • Cohesiveness: contiguity, integrity and compactness of the area
  • Communities of Interest: established neighborhoods, racial and social demographics, groups with cultural bonds, common issues or concerns, voting precincts and other types of divisions.

 

The District emphasized public input throughout the transition process.  The District conducted five duly noticed public hearings over two phases to review the process of converting to a zone-based election system, receive input from the public on communities of interest within the District’s service area, and review and receive public input on draft voting district zone maps:

Phase 1: Community Input

On October 14, 2021, and October 28, 2021, the District conducted duly noticed public hearings to describe the transition process and solicit public input on communities of interest and other factors that should be considered in the development of draft voting district zone maps.  Lapkoff and Gobalet considered such input, together with the most current federal census data, in the development of five draft voting district zone maps which were published and posted on the District’s website on January 3, 2022.

Phase 2: Voting District Zone Mapping

On January 13, 2022, the District conducted a third duly noticed public hearing to present the five draft voting district zone maps and receive input from the public and from the Board.  Based on input received during this public hearing, two of the draft maps (Plan numbers 4 and 5) were removed from further consideration.

On February 17, 2022, the District conducted a fourth duly noticed public hearing to present the three remaining draft voting district zone maps and receive further input from the public and from the Board.  At this public hearing, Lapkoff and Gobalet provided additional details regarding the differences among the three draft maps, and the sequence of elections was discussed.

On March 10, 2022, the District conducted a fifth duly noticed public hearing to present the remaining draft voting district zone maps, including the potential boundaries of the five proposed zones, for public input regarding configuration of the zones and communities of interest to assist in selecting the final voting district zone map, as well as the final sequence of elections.  Following the public hearing, the Board adopted an ordinance establishing a final voting district zone map (Plan 3[ES1] ) and sequence of elections. The adopted sequence of elections is as follows:

  • Voters in zones 2 and 3 elect their representatives every four years beginning in November 2022.  
  • Voters in zones 1, 4, and 5 elect their representatives every four years beginning in November 2024.




Aerial of service area

Adopted Voting District Zone Map

Final Adopted Voting District Zone Map - Document 

Adopted Ordinance establishing a voting zone map and sequence of elections - Document


 

Documents and Materials

Documents and materials associated with the process of transitioning from district-based to zone-based elections are provided below.   .

Background Documents

August 12, 2021 – Resolution of Intention

Public Hearing #1 – October 14, 2021

Staff Report - Page 3, Item #7

Staff Presentation - Materials begin on page 73.

Staff Presentation (video) - Begins at timestamp 1:53 

Public Hearing #2 - October 28, 2021

Staff Report - Page 3, Item #4

Staff Presentation Materials - Begins on page 1

Staff Presentation (video) - Begins at timestamp 4:15

Public Hearing #3 - January 13. 2022

Staff Report - Document

Staff Presentation Materials - Document

Staff Presentation Video - View Here

All Plans - Document

Plan 1 - Document

Plan 2 - Document

Plan 3 - Document

Plan 4 - Document (removed from consideration)

Plan 5 - Document (removed from consideration)

Public Hearing #4 - February 17, 2022

Staff Report - Page 3, Item 4 View Here

Staff Presentation Materials View Here

Staff Presentation (video) - View Here

All Plans - Document

Plan 1 - Document

Plan 2 - Document

Plan 3 - Document

Informal Working Maps - Water Quality and Production Overlay - Document

Public Hearing #5 - March 10, 2022

Staff Report - (Page 77, Item #5.7)

Staff Presentation Materials - (View Here)

Staff Presentation Video - (Begins at timestamp 26:35)

All plans - Document

Plan 1 - Document

Plan 2 - Document

Plan 3 - Document

Updated informal Working Maps - Document