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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Redistricting Commission Holds Its Ground Against Disgruntled Critics

• Legal Challenges Are Possible But They May Be Precluded


Much has already been said and written about the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s preliminary final district maps that were released on July 29, including legal challenges, but little seems to have gotten through to the public from the commissioners about their process and the mandates they were required to follow. The commission is scheduled to vote on final maps on Aug. 15.
A narrative issued by the commission, which was charged with drawing district lines for Congressional, Assembly, State Senate and Board of Equalization districts appears to be an attempt to remind critics and other folks what went into the process.
The 14-member independent commission consists of individuals from diverse ethnic, geographic and economic backgrounds.
“It is important to note the commission drew the maps with no reference to the current districts,” according to the commission statement. “The commission’s entire process in drawing the districts is an open and transparent one. The public has been able to watch the commission deliberate, discuss and ultimately draw the lines.”
Commissioners emphasize all the while they were doing this, there was an interactive component that allowed the commissioners to listen to the public both verbally in hearings and in writing and through the use of interactive online processes.
The California Constitution lists and ranks the criteria for drawing district boundaries. The commission’s narrative indicates the criteria is what drove the commissioners to come up with the final district drawings.
Those are: “all of the districts shall have reasonably equal population with other districts for the same office. Districts shall comply with the federal voting rights act. Districts shall be geographically contiguous.
“The geographic integrity of any city, county, local neighborhood or local community of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes their division to the extent possible without violating the requirements of any of the preceding subdivisions.
“A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation,” the commission missive notes.
“To the extent practicable, and where it does not conflict with the criteria above, districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant populations.
“To the extent practicable and where it does not conflict with the criteria above, each Senate district shall be comprised of two whole complete and adjacent Assembly districts and each Board of Equalization district shall be comprised of 10 whole, complete and adjacent Senate districts.
“The place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate shall not be considered in the creation of the map. Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate or political party.”
The commission held 34 public input hearings throughout the state, receiving testimony from 2,731 speakers and written comment from nearly 20,000 individuals and organizations.

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