SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

An elections lawsuit is filed against the city of Santa Barbara Wednesday by attorney Barry Cappello, on behalf of five Santa Barbara registered voters.

The suit contends the city is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) because its at-large method of elections dilutes the votes of Latino residents, which results in Latinos being denied effective political representation on the Santa Barbara City Council.

The lawsuit is demanding that the City of Santa Barbara implement district-based elections to comply with the CVRA.

The plaintiffs listed are as follows: Frank Banales, Sebastian Aldana, Jr., Jacqueline Inda, Cruzito Hererra Cruz and Benjamin Cheverez.

Information sent from Cappello & Noel LLP describes how the Latino population makes up 38 percent of the city population yet only one Latino has been elected to the city council in the last 10 years and that this type of "ethnic voter dilution" is
unlawful under the CVRA.

"Cities throughout the State of California are required to change their at-large system of voting, and to implement a district-based election system when their at-large system dilutes minority voters of the right to elect candidates of their choice," said Cappello. "Santa Barbara has refused to act to protect its significant Latino community, which has been denied its rights."

NewsChannel 3 reached out to Mayor Helene Schneider for a response.

"I am very disappointed to see this premature lawsuit filed since the Council has been studying the issue of whether the City of Santa Barbara in fact has any racially polarized voting, and just last week authorized funding to a demographer to conduct such a study," said Schneider. "We expect to have those results in September."