Transparency the rule in redistricting process that puts voters first

150 150 Zabrae Valentine

California’s historic citizen redistricting process, which began with voter approval of Proposition 11 in 2008, is nearing its conclusion, after months of public interaction, extensive research, comprehensive study, and citizen input. For the first time in the history of our state, we will have electoral district maps drawn in an open and transparent manner, with full input of Californians and without the gerrymandering that has led our state to the pinnacle of special interest influence and extreme partisanship.

During the Prop 11 campaign, supporters of all partisan stripes pressed for a new redistricting system driven by the interests of voters rather than incumbents. Prop 11 promised a new system in which lawmakers would put the needs of their constituents above partisan or special interest demands.

In addition to new districts, the 2012 primaries will be “top–two”: If a candidate of any party can persuade a sufficient number of voters to vote for him or her in the primary, no matter what their registration, that candidate will go on to the general election. Top-two means Republicans, Democrats, Decline-to-State voters and third party-registered candidates all have a chance to win primaries in their districts no matter how many voters are registered in their particular party.

California Forward continues to applaud and support the transparency of the CA Citizens Redistricting Commission as it works to redraw the state’s Congressional, Legislative, and Board of Equalization maps while striving to follow parameters outlined by California voters in Prop 11 and later Prop 20.

These new district maps will reflect a process that has been inclusive from start to finish and extraordinarily transparent. Anyone who has watched the Commission meetings appreciates how seriously the Commissioners have been taking this job, as they grapple openly and honestly with the challenges and implications of their historic charge.

The Commission is continuing to meet through early August – check the CCRC website for the meeting schedule. These meetings will continue to be public, live-streamed, and posted for viewing at any time, along with meeting transcripts and handouts, including the map visualizations.

All instructions from the Commissioners to the line drawers have been given in public at the meetings. The line drawers’ notes (summaries of comments from Commissioners) are also posted. The goal all along has been that everyone knows what the Commissioners is considering and why they are considering it.

The Commission is scheduled to vote on the final maps on August 15. No matter what the outcome, this Commission has earned high marks for the dedication and integrity it has brought to the process. California Forward has supported independent citizen redistricting and the voter-approved top-two open primary, which will give Californians more of a voice in the process hopefully produce more effective governance state-wide. The incredible degree of public participation in the new redistricting system — from the 30,000 applicants for the Redistricting Commission to the many thousands who commented during the map drawing process — suggests Californians also are eager to see the impact of these reforms.

To comment on the maps, e-mail or fax 916-651-5711. For more information on redistricting, see the CA Fwd redistricting page.

We also invite you to join CA Fwd’s e-mail list and Like us on Facebook, to stay up-to-date on the latest efforts to make CA government more accountable and transparent, leading to better results for all Californians.


Zabrae Valentine

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