Every 10 years after the federal census, California must redraw the boundaries of its Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts, to reflect the most recent population data. This year, those lines will be drawn by a 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC), comprised of individuals from varied ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations in the state. To maintain balance, the CRC includes five Democrats, five Republicans, and four No Party Preference voters.
Throughout 2011, CLCV Education Fund has presented testimony to the CRC framing our position on redistricting. As California is now a minority-majority state, we first urged the CRC uphold the Federal Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. Our past polling demonstrates that, especially in Latino and Asian American communities, there tends to be even greater levels of environmental sensitivity that should be respected and protected.
Secondly, CLCV Education Fund argued that districts must respect the boundaries – not only of cities and neighborhoods – but also contiguous populations that share social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of effective and fair representation, including environmental “communities-of-interest” like coastal communities, watersheds and wetlands, for example.
Since then, we have testified and submitted letters on behalf of the San Gabriel Mountains and Flats, the northern and southern coastal communities, and the Santa Monica Mountains. We also presented a series of generic state maps demonstrating the principle of COI in the Sierras; in the valley agricultural transit corridor; in the parts of the desert that are experimenting with renewable energy sources. Finally, we have advanced the principle of “continuity of representation” in the CRC’s renumbering of Senate seats from “north to south” assigning odd and even numbered districts. We argued against removing odd numbers especially for coastal communities that theoretically could disenfranchise voters without a legislative advocate in the State Senate for two years.
The first set of draft maps was released by the CRC on June 10, 2011. The preliminary final draft of the new Districts has been released, and the Commission will vote on whether or not to adopt them on August 15, 2011. (Visit the CRC’s website for more information, including interactive versions of the final draft maps.) Barring any legal challenges, those will be the final lines in play during the 2012 elections.
Testimony and letters submitted to the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission by CLCV Education Fund and CLCV
- 2/26/11: Testimony of Warner Chabot on Voting Rights Act and geographical contiguity
- 3/17/11: Letter from Warner Chabot on the selection of a technical expert
- 3/17/11: Letter from Warner Chabot on the selection of Voting Rights Act counsel
- 6/23/11: Letter from H. Eric Schockman on the Voting Rights Act
- 6/30/11: Letter from H. Eric Schockman on the North Coast
- 7/12/11: Letter from H. Eric Schockman on the South Santa Monica Bay
- 7/18/11: Letter from H. Eric Schockman on the Santa Monica Mountains
For meeting transcripts, visit http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/transcripts.html. All public comments submitted to the Commission are available here: http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/public_comments_meetings_2011.html