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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

California Redistricting

At the Contra Costa Times, Lisa Vorderbrueggen writes about the job facing California's new Citizens Redistricting Commission:

Mappers must keep the population of each district equal almost to a person. They must factor county and city boundaries.

Districts must be contiguous. Topography such as mountains and bays count. They must consider the vaguely defined "communities of interest."

They cannot split ethnic or racial minority populations in the hopes it will dilute their voting clout. Place two Assembly districts within each Senate district to the extent practicable.

Mappers may not factor incumbents' home addresses or draw lines that favor or hinder a political party. And remember, voters want neatly drawn districts that don't scream gerrymander.

Don't be discouraged.

You, too, can draw maps and submit them to the commission, which must conduct an "open and transparent process enabling full public consideration of and comment" on the proposed lines.

The Statewide Database will open in the spring six redistricting centers around California, including one at its Berkeley office. Residents will have free access to computers and experts who will help navigate the software. (Go to for updates.)

Patrick McGreevy writes at The Los Angeles Times:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refers to it as the "ribbon of shame,'' a congressional district that stretches in a reed-thin line 200 miles along the California coast from Oxnard to the Monterey County line. Voters there refer to it as "the district that disappears at high tide."

Democratic lawmakers drew it that way to make sure one of their own won every election. The party has held the seat throughout the decade — since the last redistricting gave it a big edge in voter registration there.

Critics of that 2001 remapping have cited the coastal ribbon as Exhibit A — the reason, they say, that Californians were right to strip elected officials of the power to choose their voters and give the task of determining political boundaries to more ordinary citizens.

As the new Citizens Redistricting Commission begins its work next month, members say, the 23rd Congressional District will be a good reminder of what not to do.

"It's been used as an example of how absurd the process is,'' said Peter Yao, the commission's chairman. "It does not allow people to choose the candidate. They are forced to go with the party's choice.''