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MUSD recall elections made simpler, cheaper

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POSTED February 5, 2015 1:50 a.m.

The word recall was mentioned at a recent meeting of the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees by a speaker in the audience during public comments.

In the years prior to 2014, that election process aimed at forcibly removing an official from their elected seat would have required eligible voters in the entire geographical area of the school district to go to the polls. However, that changed when Measure I was approved by 66.50 percent of the 18,681 voters in the district in the November 2014 elections. The approved proposal changed the method of electing district trustees from at-large to by-trustee-area only.

Under that new scenario, should a recall election take place, only the voters living in a trustee’s specific area would be able to cast their nay or yea votes, said Bassem Nakhla, candidates filing supervisor for the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Office in Stockton. Staging a special election would be a less expensive proposition as a matter of course.

The reason behind the Measure I changes is to protect the school district from potential expensive lawsuits. Voting by at-large has been shown to be threatened by the California Voting Rights Act of 1001, or CVRA. Several school districts in California have, in fact, been sued or threatened with lawsuits for alleged violations of the CVRA. Switching to by-area voting only of trustees lessens the school district’s vulnerability to challenges under the CVRA.

Getting ready for Measure I necessitated the redrawing of the school district’s map. The prior map showed only five trustee areas, with the most densely populated Area 5 represented by three board members. The redrawn map now has each board member representing a specific area, with the school district going from only five to seven areas.

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