Every ten years, following compilation of new census figures, boundary lines of all the legislative districts in the U.S. must be redrawn to give equal representation. It’s not an easy task, and early in the game politicians learned that boundary lines could be manipulated so as to give preference to a particular faction. Remember gerrymandering? You probably studied it in 5th grade.
In 2008, the voters of California passed Prop 11, specifying that a nonpartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission be formed to include 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 4 others (3rd parties or ‘decline to state’ voters). Balance between political party affiliations is only part of the story, though. Gender, ethnicity, income level, and county of residence are also balanced in the pool that currently contains 60 candidates. More detail on the continuing selection process is available at http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/index.html.
Prop 11 charges s the Citizens Redistricting Commission with creating 80 geographically compact Assembly Districts which would preserve neighborhoods and ‘communities of interest.’ These districts would then be paired to create 40 Senate Districts. Finally, ten adjacent Senate Districts would comprise one of our four Board of Equalization Districts. This three-level process is called “nesting.”
Prop 20 on November 2nd’s statewide ballot would extend the work of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, to include drawing lines for California’s Congressional districts. The Commission would be in place and ready to go as soon as new census data is available.
Prop 27 would eliminate the Citizens Redistricting Commission entirely, and return the task of redistricting to the state legislature. Party considerations could again reign supreme, but there would be new requirements for public hearings, equality of population, and public access to redistricting data.
Since Props 20 and 27 have opposite outcomes, few voters will want to vote ‘yes’ on both. However, it would be possible for both to pass. In that case, the one with the greatest number of votes would go into effect.
I hope you will visit http://smartvoter.org/2010/11/02/ca/state/prop/ for more detail on all the statewide propositions.
Finally, please bear in mind that your ‘no’ vote on any and all propositions would indicate that you don’t want to make any change in state law as it now stands.
Think it through — it’s up to you!