Hopes of abandoning the Windsor Town Council’s highly criticized district-based elections system suffered a devastating blow this week, after a study by consultant Best, Best & Krieger (BB&K) found that racially polarized voting does, in fact, occur in Windsor.
The racial polarization study, to be presented to the town council at their upcoming Nov. 17 meeting, found that the 2019 adoption of the current by-district system, wherein each non-mayoral council seat represents a specific geographical district, the constituents of which vote for only their own representative, was “well founded” in accordance with the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).
“The voting data shows that Windsor voters tend to vote in blocks that correspond to their race. Where this occurs, the CVRA requires by-district elections,” the Nov. 17 agenda report reads. “In short, BB&K has concluded that the town council’s 2019 decision to convert to by-district elections was well-founded. The breadth of election and demographic data indicate clearly that an at-large election system in Windsor would run afoul of both the California and Federal Voting Rights Acts.”
Windsor chucked its former at-large system, wherein each council seat is awarded to the top vote-winners in town-wide elections, in favor of the by-district system in 2019, under threat of a lawsuit which claimed the town marginalized Latino voters in violation of the CVRA.
Since it’s adoption and following the scandal of former mayor and council member Dominic Foppoli, in which the flaws of the current system were brought to light, the Windsor council has discussed the possibility of returning to an at-large system, among other amendments to the council selection process.
That move would have depended on a different finding in the racial polarization study, which determined that voting in Windsor does correspond to racially differentiated groups.