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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Final Redistricting Map Will Be Available July 28

BY BILL KOENEKER

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission performed a 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.
However, at its meeting on July 9, the commissioners decided “that in order to produce the best district maps possible, it will amend its schedule and not release a second round of draft maps.”
The 14-member commission is charged with redrawing California's Senate, Assembly, and 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 commission indicated at its July 9 meeting it would be posting what it describes as “visualizations of proposed districts” and make equivalency files available for organizations and news outlets to provide greater detail to the public on the visualization proposals. The commission press release indicates the visualizations are proposed options for districts and are considered and discussed by the commission at its meetings while instructing the lines be drawn.
The final district maps are slated to be released July 28 and adopted by the commission on August 15. 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.”
The commission had asked the public to join it and held 23 input hearings throughout the state, receiving testimony from 1533 residents.
The first preliminary district maps, according to the commission, “are drawn without regard to political incumbents and partisan considerations…districts reflect geographic and common sense boundaries [and] the districts balance the needs of different communities of interest in California.”
In contrast to previous redistricting, the commission is releasing the draft maps before its final Aug. 15 deadline, which gives the public the time to work with the commission to develop final maps, according to the press release.
Every 10 years, California redraws the lines of the political landscape through the redistricting process.

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