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See also "Redistricting"

March 29, 2005

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Assembly Republican Leader
California State Assembly
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Re: ACAX1 3--Support If Amended to Omit Mid-decade Redistricting

Dear Assembly Member McCarthy:

The League of Women Voters of California recognizes the importance of ACAX1 3, your bill which would amend the constitution so that district lines are drawn by an independent redistricting panel. We would be pleased to support your measure if the provision for a redistricting immediately following its adoption by the voters is removed.

We are particularly pleased that the bill provides:

  • Strong requirements for a transparent, open process
  • Standards which are ranked and defined and give emphasis to compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, respect for boundaries of cities and counties, and preservation and protection of "communities of interest"
  • The requirements that no consideration be given to potential effects on incumbents and that no party receive preferential treatment
  • A requirement that the panel seek input on their initial plan from independent experts to evaluate compliance with the standards for plans
  • Adoption of plans by a four-fifths vote of the panel of special masters.

We commend you for amending the original bill to increase the panel from three to five and to include the requirement that the pool "to the extent practicable, . . . shall reflect the ethnic, racial, gender, and geographical diversity of California." We would prefer an additional enlargement of the panel to nine members; that would make it easier to reflect the diversity of the state. Also, a supermajority of a larger panel would not be quite as close to a requirement for unanimity. We would prefer including ordinary citizens on the panel in addition to retired state or federal judges.

But it is the provision for a redistricting immediately on adoption of this measure which prevents us from giving it our full support now and which would prevent us from supporting it on a statewide ballot. We believe that the redistricting process should respect the once-a-decade precedent in order to avoid more frequent partisan efforts to change redistricting results. Using 2000 census data for a 2006 redistricting would disenfranchise many voters in parts of the state where population is growing fast and give added power to voters in other areas. It is unlikely to be possible for County Registrars of Voters to make preparations for a June 2006 election using districts redrawn in a process which would start in mid-November. If we wait until 2008, population data would be so out of date that it would make sense to wait until after the 2010 census.

We would like to work with you, other legislative leaders, and the governor to produce a redistricting measure which we could urge voters to support wholeheartedly.


Jacqueline Jacobberger
President, League of Women Voters of California

cc: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger


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