- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) - Palmdale is changing its voting system to settle a lawsuit that claimed its at-large method discriminated against black and Hispanic voters.

The deal was approved by the City Council Wednesday night.

Beginning in November 2016, voters in four districts will each choose a City Council member. Two districts have Hispanic voter majorities.

Only the mayor will still be chosen at-large.

The lawsuit alleged the desert city of 156,000 violated the state Voting Rights Act and a judge found the at-large system diluted the voting strength of minorities.

The city argued changes were unnecessary, noting that its first black councilmember, Fred Thompson, was chosen in citywide balloting in 2013. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit called that election illegal.

The settlement allows the current council to remain in office until the 2016 election.

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