10/13/2010 by California Forward
Proposition 27: Repeal of Citizensâ€™ Redistricting Commission
California Forward is dedicated to offering nonpartisan, informative, straightforward information about the propositions that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. We will post informational articles on each ballot measure, to help you as you make your voting decisions.
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NOTE: California Forward’s work on governance reform may be affected by several of these measures, although we have not taken a position on them – with one exception. CA Fwd opposes Prop 27. Prop 27 would reverse the landmark redistricting reform plan that was enacted by voters in 2008 as Prop 11. California Forward endorsed Prop 11 and has been deeply involved -- with many other groups -- in supporting successful implementation of the reform since enactment. The opportunity to serve California through the new redistricting commission inspired tens of thousands of highly qualified Californians to apply for the job, which we applaud. We look forward to the new, independent commission taking control of state redistricting in 2011.
This measure returns responsibility for determining the boundaries of the California’s legislative districts to the State Legislature, taking it out of the hands of a bipartisan commission recently established by voters.
The new body, the Citizens Redistricting Commission, was established in 2008 when voters passed Proposition 11. It is currently responsible for overseeing the state-level ‘redistricting’ process—a constitutionally-mandated adjustment of the boundary lines of State Assembly and State Senate districts every ten years to reflect population changes in the census.
The commission - to be named later this year - will consist of 14 registered voters (5 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 4 independents). They will be selected from a list of applicants, after a thorough vetting process by the State Legislature. Their work on redistricting is scheduled to begin in 2011.
A YES vote: Returns the responsibility for determining the boundaries of State Assembly, State Senate, and Board of Equalization districts back to the State Legislature.
A NO vote: Leaves the responsibility for determining the boundaries of State Assembly, State Senate, and Board of Equalization districts with the Citizens Redistricting Commission.
(NOTE: Another measure on the ballot, Proposition 20, would also change the rules around redistricting by expanding the work of the Citizens Restricting Commission to include not just state legislative boundaries, but districts in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well. If both measures pass, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would be the only one to go into effect.)
Every ten years, the State Constitution requires state legislative districts to be redrawn to reflect changes in the state’s population. Supporters of this measure want this process to be put back in the hands of a democratically-elected body, the Legislature. They say state representatives will do a better job, because they may be removed from office, if voters disapprove of the way they have redrawn legislative districts—something that cannot be said of the Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Opponents of this measure believe allowing legislators to draw the boundaries of their own districts is a conflict of interest. In the past, legislators who oversee the redistricting process have often redrawn the districts to the advantage of whatever party is in power in Sacramento, or to protect incumbents. This has led to the creation of sprawling districts that criss-cross city and county lines and stretch over unrelated regions. It has also led, in recent years, to 99 percent of incumbents being reelected.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by Proposition 11, may not draw districts in favor of incumbents, political candidates, or political parties. It is required to maintain the geographic integrity of cities, counties, neighborhoods, and communities of interest. Proposition 27 would eliminate these new redistricting standards—and return the power of redistricting to the lawmakers who rely on those same districts to be elected.