California is about to find out what legislative and congressional districts look like when they’re drawn by citizens, not politicians. Draft redistricting maps are due out Friday.
It’s never happened before in California. But thanks to Proposition 11 – approved by voters in 2008 – an independent citizens’ commission is overseeing the state’s redistricting process this year. So many state and federal lawmakers are paying close attention, knowing their political futures are at stake.
The 14-member panel has held nearly two-dozen public hearings. That’s in contrast to previous redistricting efforts, when politicians behind closed doors often gerrymandered lines to protect incumbents. This time, the commission says it’s not paying any attention to where incumbents live or how to protect the political parties. Instead, districts will be based on geography. They’re also supposed to protect minorities, based on the federal Voting Rights Act.
This round of maps is only the first draft. The commission will release the final maps in mid-August.