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The Color of Change: Voting Rights in the 21st Century and the California Voting Rights Act

50 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2011 Last revised: 10 Sep 2012

Joanna Cuevas Ingram

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2012


In this Comment, I explore how coalition plaintiffs may be able to bring effective voting rights claims under both Section 2 of the Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) as well as under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) to directly address continued voter discrimination, dilution, and disenfranchisement in the twenty-first century.

As our society and voting population become increasingly multiethnic, multiracial, and multilingual, many local voting districts - including school districts - remain resistant to respond to the needs and demands of voters who reflect this unprecedented demographic change. In fact, several commentators have employed a “post-racial” discourse when seeking to avoid litigation claims regarding continued voter discrimination and vote dilution brought by increasingly diverse multiethnic and multilingual plaintiffs. I argue that the need for effective voting rights remedies that respond to continued voter disenfranchisement remains critical to the evolution of our democratic process.

Given the higher evidentiary burdens voting rights plaintiffs may be required to meet under the Supreme Court's recent decision in Bartlett v. Strickland, I explore how the CVRA, in particular, provides potential coalition plaintiffs with a complementary state-based remedial measure to address continued voter disenfranchisement. I conclude that coalition plaintiffs should be able to look to the CVRA and similar state-based legislation modeled on the CVRA as just one key part of a comprehensive set of strategies designed to effectively address voter discrimination in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Voting Rights, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, California, Diversity, Multiethnic, Multilingual, Anticlassification, Antisubordination, Colorblind, Colorconscious, Demographics, Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Studies

JEL Classification: J70, K10, K30, K40

Suggested Citation

Cuevas Ingram, Joanna, The Color of Change: Voting Rights in the 21st Century and the California Voting Rights Act (April 1, 2012). Harvard Latino Law Review, Vol. 15. Available at SSRN:

Joanna Cuevas Ingram (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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