The maps drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission have been approved by the Commission and have been submitted to the Secretary of State. The districts will now be put into place for elections held in 2012, unless a referendum derails the process.
Districts for US Representatives, and state offices for Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization, are routinely examined the year after the census is taken, to assure that voters are distributed evenly and equitably.
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The responsibility for this shifted from politicians to the public after voters passed Props.11 and 20, setting up the citizens’ effort to handle the redistricting and a few guidelines to follow.
One commissioner, however, says that the citizens engaged in the same gerrymandering and back-room deals as their partisan predecessors, which the commission was set up to avoid.
Mike Ward, a Republican chiropractor from Anaheim, was the lone vote against all four of the sets of maps. He accused his fellow commissioners of violating the Voting Rights Act and of replacing the recommended practice of “nesting” – placing two Assembly districts within each Senate district, where possible – with “blending” – a term that the commission never really defined.
He said that some decisions were made based on political motives.
“This problem largely stemmed from the vague requirement to draw lines around ‘local communities of interest,’ a term which is endlessly broad and easy to manipulate,” he said.
Santa Clarita activists expressed their support for our city to be kept together with “communities of interest” favoring Antelope Valley communities with which we share transportation links. Looking at the maps, more of the San Fernando Valley is mixed in (see previous story here) and the Senate district completely divides Newhall and Valencia.
California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro issued the following statement in response to the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s final approval of the redrawn Senate maps:
“A referendum will be filed with respect to the Senate lines and possibly the Congressional lines. The California Republican Party will wholeheartedly support those efforts when they come about. I have been saying for months that the CRC’s actions have been unfair if not unconstitutional, and that remains the case. The CRP will do whatever it can to give voters the chance to correct what the Commission failed to do.”
Commission spokesman Rob Wilcox told KHTS in July that if changes were to be made, the entire state would have to be re-configured, as a boundary shift in one area affects boundaries of other districts.