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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Citizens Redistricting Commission Makes Progress Redrawing Area Maps

• District ‘Visualizations’ Based on Census Data Are Scheduled for Final Ratification on August 15

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Citizens Redistricting Commission continues its line drawings of districts in discussing and drawing Congressional and legislative districts, according to a press release issued by the commission last week.
The commission launched what is being called an “unprecedented interactive process” where the public can easily view what are called district visualizations online and submit written public comment in real time as the commission meets.
During their last two days of meetings last week, commissioners referred to the comments that they were receiving online during the meetings, according to a press release.
The public can view the so-called visualizations and follow the line drawing meetings live online at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov and continue to submit comments to votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov
The commissioners also listened to public testimony given at their meetings from individuals from all over the state.
The commission is expected to release final district maps on or before August 1 and vote on ratifying the maps on August 15.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission performed an 180 degree turnaround and surprised everybody last week by announcing it would not release second draft maps as previously promised.
The unhappy tone of many when the first set of maps was released was somewhat mollified when the commission announced a second round of maps and meetings were forthcoming.
Through press releases and subsequent meetings the commissioners assured the public that they would get a second shot at how district boundaries would be drawn during the second round of drafts and meetings.
The new 14-member commission is charged with redrawing California’s Senate, Assembly, state Board of Equalization and Congressional districts based on information gathered during the 2010 census, according to its website.
The commission must draw the districts “in conformity with strict, nonpartisan uses designed to create districts of relatively equal populations that will provide fair representation for all Californians.”
The commissioners are currently soliciting public comments on the visualizations and will be receiving, reading and considering those comments throughout their meetings directing the lines drawn for the final maps.
The state’s voters created a Citizens Redistricting Commission in order to be able to elect more accountable legislative and Congressional representatives. The commission prepared the draft maps “without regard to current districts, incumbents candidates or political parties.”
The commission used what it described as a “transparent process, adhering to a rank-ordered set of criteria that is designed to produce sensible and fair districts.”
Every 10 years, California redraws the lines of the political landscape through the redistricting process.

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