Coloring Outside the Lines – California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission Releases First Round of Draft Maps

2011 Congressional MapBallot initiatives in California run the gamut and ask the electorate to cast their vote, yea or nay, on a wide range of issues.  Recently, there has been a lot of press about one specific initiative we went to the polls to vote on (and passed) in 2008 – Proposition 11 — the Voters FIRST Act (“the Act’).  The Act authorized the creation of a fourteen-member Citizens Redistricting Commission that is now responsible, rather than elected law makers, for re-drawing the district lines for the State Senate, Assembly, and U.S. Congress.   The Commission is made up of five Republicans, five Democrats and four other members not affiliated with either of those two parties and will attempt to take some of the politics out of redistricting we’ve seen of late in states like Texas and Illinois.

Last Friday marked the release by the Commission of the first round of draft maps outlining these new districts.  Of note, it appears that two well-known U.S. congressional incumbents, Representative David Drier and Howard L. Berman are now in proposed districts made up of overwhelmingly Latino voters.  This signals an attempt  to create district boundaries that reflect communities of interest, districting criteria set up to combat gerrymandering.

The general consensus is we’re going to see the games begin in the Golden State as the public comment phase of the process starts.  For those of you who may be interested in learning more about redistricting generally along with what’s going on in California, additional resources are included below.

Additional Resources

California Citizens Redistricting Commission

Cal. Elec. Code Sec. 21500  “Communities of Interest”

Voting Rights Act

Redistricting Information Center – U.S. Department of Justice

“Redistricting by Citizens Has Test in California” New York Times, June 10, 2011

KQED Forum Broadcast “California’s New Political Boundaries”, June 13, 2011

Brennan Center for Democracy – Redistricting Blog