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Redistricting Common Sense: Voting Maps Made by Voters, Not Politicians

California's redistricting commission wasn't particularly popular when it passed. Nor were great results predicted by many, including myself. However, I've thoroughly changed my tune, and acknowledge the solid work done by the 14 commissioners and staff in creating a new system with transparency and openness.

 

Now, a new report sponsored by the League of Women Voters finds that the system was popular statewide, and really did their job. (h/t Josh Richman)

A new report "When the People Draw the Lines," finds that California's first citizen-led redistricting commission successfully democratized redistricting in the state. In fact, among the estimated one-third of the voters who were familiar with the work of the commission, over 66 percent of the public approved of the CRC district maps.

The report, commissioned by the League of Women Voters of California in partnership with The James Irvine Foundation, found that the commission made a concerted effort to make the process more democratic and nonpartisan. In particular, the commission effectively gathered input from Californians through developing a statewide campaign with public meetings, open databases and online engagement.

Nobody can accuse the commission of not holding enough meetings. Having attended a few of them myself, I have to congratulate them on sitting through all that. Many of the speakers provided excellent input, some not so much. But they held 34 public meetings around the state, and listened to over 2,700 speakers. Impressive indeed.

The report also made a few suggestions on how to improve the process. Most notably, the report suggested the process begin earlier to give the commissioners more time to do their job. Near the end of the process, meetings got squished together and probably could have benefited from a bit of extra deliberation.

The report also noted that having all 14 members at all of the hearings was a bit resource intensive. Having smaller subpanels would speed up the process and reduce travel costs. And while a lot of effort and resources were spent on selection of the commissioners, more time should have gone into training them.

The redistricting panels would probably be a good model for other states, but as of right now, more Democratic leaning states have moved to them than Republican states. As shown with the redistricting debacle in Texas, Republicans aren't so keen on giving up their mapping authority. But having seen the process first hand, it is probably best for the people to not have politicians choosing their own districts.

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