California's Citizens Redistricting Commission
Redistricting California: Voters Choose a Citizens Commission instead of the Legislature
The Citizens Redistricting Commission is responsible for redistricting or reallocating political boundaries for all California state districts beginning with the 2010 census population data.
In 2008, California voters passed the Voters First Act and transferred the responsibility for drawing political boundaries for the state senate, assembly and Board of Equalization from the state Legislature to a newly formed Citizens Redistricting Commission.
In 2010 voters passed the Voters First for Congress Act, adding congressional districts to the commissions responsibilities.
New Rules and Criteria for Redistricting Approved by Voters
The 2008 and 2010 Voters First redistricting initiatives passed by the voters laid out new rules and new criteria for redistricting. The new redistricting requirements:
- Establish a 14 member Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw the state political boundaries.
- Transfer authority to the commission for drawing lines for the 53 congressional districts, 80 state Assembly districts, 40 state Senate districts and the Board of Equalization.
- Set specific criteria to be used for mapping new district lines that conform with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Californians. See criteria listed below.
- Direct the commission to maintain an open and transparent process fully accessible to the public. The commission must hold public hearings around the state and accept public comment and conduct themselves with integrity and fairness. Learn How to Prepare Testimony
- After hearing from the public and drawing the maps, the Commission must vote on the new maps to be used for the next decade.
- Establish a timeline for the work to be done every 10 years beginning with the 2010 census. The 2011 redistricting maps are due August 15, 2011.
What are the criteria for drawing the lines for the state of California?
The criteria are listed in order of their priority as specified in Section 2 of Article XXI of the California Constitution:
(1) Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution.
State Congressional districts shall achieve population equality as nearly as is practicable, and the Senate, Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts shall have reasonably equal population with other districts for the same office, except where deviation is required to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act or allowable by law.
(2) Districts shall comply with the federal Voting Rights Act .
Read more about the history of the VRA and Minority Representation
(3) Districts shall be geographically contiguous.
(4) The geographic integrity of any city, county, city and 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.
Examples of such shared interests are those common to an urban area, a rural area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common to areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media of communication relevant to the election process. Communities of interest shall not include relationships with political parties, incumbents, or political candidates.
How can you define your community? A good example of how neighborhoods and communities define themselves is LA Times Mapping LA.
(5) To the extent practicable, and where this 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 population.
(6) To the extent practicable, and where this 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.
(e) The place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate shall not be considered in the creation of a map. Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate, or political party.
Public Participation: Comment on the Maps
The public was urged to review and comment on the maps as drafts or visualizations were released. Ideally, districts are formed to allow the voices in each community to be represented, and communities and neighborhoods kept together.
The public was afforded many opportunities to help shape the districts that will elect representatives that give voice to their concerns. During 34 public input hearing all across California the commission heard from more than 2700 members of the public.
The public also sent over 20,000 comments by fax, email or letters on the maps as they were drafted in July.
Drafting the Final Maps
The final maps were available for public comment for 14 days before the Citizens Redistricting Commission certified the maps to the Secretary of State on August 15, 2011.
The line drawing phase formally closed after July 23. The Commission revivewed and posted public comments on the visualizations of proposed maps for congressional, state assembly, senate and Board of Equalization districts. For a full schedule of hearings and archive video go to the commission website at wedrawthelines.ca.gov.
ReDrawCA.org provides free website access to all Californians to view and review the new district maps. The website offered an opportunity for the public to research their neighborhoods and communities and draw and share maps of communities or districts. Usable by both individuals and groups, this excellent tool provided the average citizen an avenue to develop good testimony to the Commission.
The new redistricting rules in California direct the commission to maintain an open and transparent process fully accessible to the public. The commission was required to hold public hearings around the state and accept public input for drawing district maps and reviewing draft maps. The commission also provided guidance for the public to effectively prepare testimony; Learn How to Prepare Testimony.
The commission has published a Guide to Redistricting and the Public Input Hearing Process,FAQ and a Public Input Hearing Worksheet to help the public prepare information for their commission testimony.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission scheduled 34 Public Input Hearings around the State through July 2011. The commission divided the state into nine regions and held hearings to gather input in multiple locations in the regions.
Meetings were streamed live on the internet and video archives can be accessed atwedrawthelines.ca.gov.
Who can challenge the maps?
The California Constitution (article XXI, section3, subdivision(b)(2)) allows registered voters to challenge the certified maps by filing a petition for a writ of mandate or prohibition in the California Supreme Court within 45 days of certification (Thursday, September 29, 2011).
The State Supreme Court notified the commission and the public in a news release that it would require an Electronic submission, as soon as possible, of any petition or petitions and supporting documents, challenging the recently certified maps, prior to timely filing of hard copy. Read about the requirements for litigation under Proposition 11.
Challenges to the certified state maps may be made in federal courts for violations of the Voting Rights Act or the U.S. Constitution.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission
Initial applications for the first Citizens Redistricting Commission were accepted by the State Auditor's office from December 15, 2009 through February 16, 2010. Over 24,000 of the initial 30,000 plus applicants were identified by the Applicant Review Panel as tentatively eligible and invited to submit supplemental applications.
Commissioners will serve for ten years, after which time a new commission will be formed following the same guidelines.
The application process is open to every registered California voter who:
- Will have been continuously registered in California with the same political party, or with no political party, for the five years immediately prior to being appointed to the commission;
- Has voted in at least two of the last three statewide general elections.
Elected officials and politicians need not apply.
Applicants could be deemed ineligible if they had a 'conflict of interest' and had;
- Been appointed to, elected to, or have been a candidate for federal or state office.
- Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of a political party or of the campaign committee of a candidate for elective federal or state office.
- Served as an elected or appointed member of a political party central committee.
- Been a registered federal, state, or local lobbyist.
- Served as paid congressional, legislative, or Board of Equalization
Learn more on the about the commission and the selection process.
Narrowing the Applicant Pool
- August 6,2010 - September 10, 2010. The ARP conducts personal interviews with the 120 most qualified applicants to narrow the pool to 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans and 20 'Other', not affiliated with either major party.
- October 1, 2010, a list of 60 of the most qualified applicants is presented to the Legislative Leaders.
The State Auditor forwarded a list of 60 finalists for the Citizens Redistricting Commission to the California Senate and Assembly, Majority and Minority Leaders on September 29, 2010. As required by the Voters First Act, there are three sub-pools; 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans and 20 not affiliated with either major party.
The Majority and Minority Leaders in the California Senate and Assembly may each strike, or remove, two applicants from each of the three pools of 20.
On November 12, 2010, the Secretary of State and the Chief Clerk of the California State Assembly jointly submitted the names of the remaining applicants—12 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 12 not affiliated with either of those two parties—for the Commission after the legislative leaders each exercised strikes of applicants. To learn more about the selection process, go to We Draw the Lines.
- November 15, 2010 - Last day for the Legislative leaders to return the list to the State Auditor
- November 20, 2010 - The State Auditor is required to hold a random drawing for the selection of first eight commissioners by this date; three drawn from the remaining Democratic pool, three from the remaining Republican pool and two from the 'other' pool of applicants.
On November 18, 2010, the California State Auditor, Elaine M. Howle, held a landmark public drawing to select the names of the first eight commissioners to serve on California’s first Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission). As required by the Voters First Act, the State Auditor randomly selected three applicants from a sub pool of registered Democrats, three applicants from a sub pool of registered Republicans, and two from a sub pool of applicants who are either Decline-to-State or belong to another party.
For more information, read the State Auditors Press Release.
- December 31, 2010 - Last day the first eight commissioners have to select the remaining six commissioners.
- January 1, 2011 - The first Citizens Redistricting Commission must start work!
- August 15, 2011 - Completed maps are submitted to the Secretary of State.
Read the reports provided to the panelists and the reasons why panelists recommended certain applicants.