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A federal judge has ruled that top elected officials in the nation's most populous county systematically discriminated against Hispanic voters to protect their own positions in office.

The plaintiffs called Monday's ruling a landmark civil rights decision that will end more than a century of white domination of politics in the county of 8.7 million people. An estimated 35 percent are Hispanic, but no member of any minority group has been elected to the Board of Supervisors since 1875.The ruling by U.S. District Judge David Kenyon charged that Los Angeles County's five-member board conspired to "protect their incumbencies and that of their allies" when they redrew the county's five voting districts in 1981.