By-Trustee Area Election System » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)?
The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) prohibits the use of any election system “that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.”  Jurisdictions can be sued if they elect their governing body using an at-large, from-districts, or mixed election system. If the court finds against a jurisdiction, the jurisdiction must change its election system and pay the plaintiff’s attorneys, experts, and other expenses.
What is an At-Large Area Election System?
An At-Large Area Election System is where all voters can vote for all seats up for election. At-large systems allow 50 percent of voters to control 100 percent of seats, and in consequence typically result in racially and politically homogenous elected bodies. This type of system has frequently been struck down under the Voting Rights Act for not providing communities of color fair representation.
What is a By-Trustee Area Election System?
A "By-Trustee Area Election System" means a method of electing members to the governing body of a political subdivision in which the candidate must reside within an election district that is a divisible part of the political subdivision and is elected only by voters residing within that election district.
Why is Fillmore USD considering a transition to a By-Trustee Area Election System?
Fillmore Unified School District Governing Board members are currently elected by registered voters using an At-Large Election System where candidates campaigning for the FUSD Governing Board are permitted to reside anywhere in FUSD’s area of service. 
Only districts that elect by-trustee areas are immune from California Voting Rights Act ("CVRA") liability. The CVRA defines at-large elections as a methodology where candidates must simply reside in the District and are voted on by all of the District's voters. Ed. Code § 5030(a). The District currently uses an at-large system of electing its Board members.
How will transitioning to a By-Trustee Area Election System affect Fillmore residents?
If approved, registered voters in the school district boundaries will have the opportunity to vote for a candidate for FUSD’s Governing Board that lives in their trustee Area. Registered voters will not be able to vote for Governing Board candidates from trustee areas in which they do not reside.
How many trustee areas will be considered?
The Governing Board will be considering a map that includes five (5) trustee areas.
How many board members comprise the FUSD Governing Board?
Five (5).
How can Fillmore residents assist with forming trustee areas?
The FUSD Governing Board will host public hearings to receive community feedback on the proposed trustee areas.
What criteria will be used to select the final trustee areas?
Assuming that the Governing Board chooses to adopt a map and transition to a By-Trustee Area Election System, the Governing Board will consider a range of factors in selecting the final map including (but not limited to) equal population, communities of interest, compactness, contiguity of districts, visible boundaries, and respect for voters’ wishes and continuity in office.
How will written communications be memorialized during the public hearing process?
All written communications will be provided to the Board of Education and will be part of the public record.  The Board will consider the public record as part of its determination on how the final trustee area map will be configured.
What is the timeline for the change?
The timeline is prescribed by the California Elections Code 10010.The Board of Education adopted a resolution of intent during the Board of Education Meeting held on March 1, 2022. The currently proposed timeline of events is linked here: Timeline
When will the new By-Trustee Area Election System occur?
The first three areas of the By-Trustee Area Election System will occur in November 2022. 
What if there is no candidate in one of the trustee areas?
There is a limited, 25-day window for candidates seeking to run for office to file declarations of candidacy with the County Registrar. This narrow window opens 113 days prior to the election and closes 88 days prior to the election. If no qualified candidate emerges from a trustee area up for election, the Governing Bord may appoint to fill the vacancy with a resident of that trustee area.
Unlike ordinary appointments, according to Education Code section 5326, if no candidate has been nominated 83 days prior to the election, the Board of Education is authorized to appoint a qualified person to the Board. Such appointment must occur at a Governing Board meeting prior to election day. Unlike, most vacancies, vacancies and appointments due to failure to elect result in the appointee serving "as if elected" – for the full term (Education Code section 5328).
The District's Board Bylaw ("BB") No. 9223 (Filling Vacancies) describes the process for finding qualified candidates to appoint. Specifically, the District is required to advertise in the local media to solicit candidate applications or nominations, and a committee consisting of less than a quorum of the Governing Board shall ensure that applicants are eligible for Board membership and announce the names of the eligible candidates. The Governing Board shall interview candidates during a public meeting, accept oral or written public input, and select the provisional appointee by a majority vote (also see Education Code section 5328.5).
In sum, should no qualified candidate emerge, starting at the close of business on the 83rd day prior to election day, the District will begin to advertise the open seat within the relevant trustee area and form a committee of less than a quorum of the Board of Education (two (2) Board members). Importantly, the appointee must be eligible for office and reside within the specific vacant trustee area. The appointment must be made during a Governing Board meeting prior to election day. The appointed member will serve as if elected in the general election, for four (4) years.
What impact does the U.S. Census have By-Trustee Area Election map?
Following each decennial federal census, Education Code section 5019.5(a) specifically requires school districts with trustee area elections to adjust boundaries of any or all trustee areas of the district to ensure that one or both of the following conditions is satisfied:
The population of each area is, as nearly as may be, the same proportion of the total population of the district as the ratio that the number of governing board members elected from the area bears to the total number of members of the governing board.
The population of each area is, as nearly as may be, the same proportion of the total population of the district as each of the other areas.
The District is required to make any such adjustment by the first day of March of the year following the release of the new decennial census data.  Therefore, depending on potential population growth and movement depicted via the 2020 census, the trustee area map lines may need to be adjusted to achieve equal population in advance of the 2022 election.
Will all five (5) Board of Education seats be open for election during the next general election?
No, the District’s November 2018 election seated three (3) Governing Board members for four-year terms through 2022. During its first By-Trustee Area Election in 2022, the District will have three (3) governing Board of Education seats available for election.
Are Fillmore voters allowed to vote for more than one candidate during the general election?
No. Under the By-Trustee Area Election System, voters are permitted to vote for only one candidate (the candidate that runs from the same trustee area in which the voter resides).