VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Change is on the way when it comes to how people in Virginia Beach elect city leaders.
“I’m open-minded to going towards a more district system," Mayor Bobby Dyer said.
For the past 25 years, any registered voter could vote for all 11 city council and school board members, regardless of the district in which the voter lived.
In March, a federal judge ruled that system was illegal.
Leaders said that voting system will change come 2022.
"Hopefully we can find a system that the public, the voter can buy into," Dyer said.
On Tuesday, Virginia Beach’s deputy city attorney, Christoper Boynton, briefed city council members on what's allowed and what's not.
"We don't know what they look like, but changes are coming," he said.
Boynton explained that in 2017, two Virginia Beach residents sued the city.
They said that the voting system prevents minority groups from electing candidates of their choice.
"The critique is when you have the at-large selection of all 11 council members, that you are allowing the majority to dictate all other council seats," explained Boynton.
A judge ruled that the city’s voting system violated the Voting Rights Act.
Boynton said the city disagrees and an appeal was in progress.
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, Boynton said the election system has to change by 2022 due to updated state laws from the General Assembly.
“Citizens will not be electing all 11 council members going forward. Under the new status quo system, separate in part of the case," he explained. 'Citizens will be able to vote for five members: for the mayor, the three at large, and one ward member."
Virginia Beach city leaders sent every household a flyer that provides more information about the voting changes.
Community members can share their opinions at two public hearings on June 8 and on June 15.
City council members plan to vote on the final voting changes on June 15.