Citizen Redistricting in Calif. Earns Praise, With a Dose of Caution

Jul. 3, 2013 / By

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New America Media, News Report, Anna Challet

SAN FRANCISCO — The first California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which took over a role formerly reserved for incumbent politicians and used public input to redraw district lines in time for the 2012 elections, has been hailed as a success, according to a new report –though the study cautions that stumbling blocks lie ahead.

“The citizen process, with all of its ups and downs, delivered a better product for the voters than the traditional process of legislators drawing their own lines,” said the report’s author Raphael J. Sonenshein, who directs the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

Every ten years, when new census data becomes available, states must redraw their district lines. In 2008, California voters approved a ballot initiative [Proposition 11] that took that power away from the state legislature and gave it to an independent 14-member bipartisan commission in an effort to bring transparency and public input into the process.

According to the report, released this month, the commission earned high marks for transparency and for efforts to engage diverse communities in both the selection of the commissioners and the drawing of the electoral districts. The report noted that the Center for Public Integrity gave the commission a score of 100 percent in an investigation into the transparency of state governing practices.

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