San Mateo County elects its supervisors in an at-large election. And according to a lawsuit filed by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, that system violates the state’s Voting Rights Act.

Despite the fact only 42 percent of the county self-identifies as white, no minority has served on the board of supervisors in the last 16 years. No Asian American has ever held that position.

(Note, according to Marshall Wilson, Communications Director for San Mateo County, Ruben Barrales served as a Supervisor until 1998, inside the 16 years originally reported. Also, a majority of the current board are women and one member, Rose Jacob Gibson, is African American.)

But the county says that its election system is allowed under the State Constitution, the County charter, and follows the wishes of the county’s residents.

But opponents of the at-large system say that it favors already established, white candidates by diffusing the influence of minorities and new comers.

From the Mercury News:

San Mateo County asked a judge Monday to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges its at-large voting system discriminates against minorities by weakening their clout.

The board of supervisors is elected countywide instead of by district, a system that critics say favors well-known incumbents over minorities and other low-profile candidates without the financial means to build name recognition.

Although San Mateo is the only county in California to still use an at-large voting system, board President Carole Groom said Monday that doesn’t matter. “I don’t think it’s relevant what other counties do or don’t do. I think you look at how well this county is run, how well this county operates.”

Read the full article here.