City of Fullerton sued by ACLU over Asian American voting rights

March 18, 2015
(Korea Times file)

California State Assemblywoman Young Kim. She represents the cities of Cypress, Buena Park, La Palma, Garden Grove, and Fullerton. (Korea Times file)

FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — The Orange County city of Fullerton was sued Wednesday over an at-large election system that Asian American advocates say harms the community’s voting rights, lawyers said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California said it sued the city of 135,000 people on behalf of Korean American community organizer Jonathan Paik.

The suit alleges that Asian Americans are unable to elect candidates to the City Council despite voting as a bloc and demands Fullerton move to district-based elections to give the community a voice.

“No one wins when some residents are shut out of government,” said Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director of the ACLU’s Orange County office, adding that Asian Americans should have a say in key issues such as educational programs and development.

A message was left with the city seeking comment.

Last year, a former city council candidate sued Fullerton — which is 34 percent Latino and 23 percent Asian — saying the current election system harms Latino voters.

After facing similar lawsuits over voting rights, the Southern California cities of Anaheim and Escondido moved to district elections.