Every ten years, most of the state’s political boundaries are redrawn. It’s done following the release of the new census numbers as a way to make
sure that all of the people in the state of California are represented proportionately. As the population changes, the number and location of the districts change.
In the past, the redrawing of lines was the exclusive business of the majority party. This year is different. Way different. Right now, the State is taking applications for the new Citizens Redistricting Commission to help play a leading role in the 2011 electoral line drawing process. For more information on how to apply, and on the Citizens Redistricting Commission in general, go to www.WeDrawTheLines.ca.gov. Applications will be accepted online until February 12, 2010.
And why is it so different this year? In November 2008, voters in California passed the Voters FIRST Act. Now YOU (the voters of California) can apply to serve on an independent Commission that will draw district boundaries for the state Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization.
And, why is this the SuperBowl of Politics? Because new boundary lines can change the demographic and partisan makeup of a district. It all depends on where the lines are drawn. Sometimes a previously “safe” seat becomes a “competitive” seat. Sometimes seats are collapsed in one area and added to another. Individual legislators have much at stake. Last time California was redistricted (following the 2000 Census), the Bay Area lost population and seats; that’s how former Assembly Member Ted Lempert of San Mateo County lost his seat. His old seat was drawn into a new seat in southern California where the population had grown.
It’s the SuperBowl for the parties as well. Think no further than the annual summertime budget gridlock. It’s not just about terrible choices. It’s about choices that 2/3rds of the members have to vote for. That means compromise. And that compromise is hard to come by. That’s why the redrawing of lines is high stakes – for the voters, for the legislators and for the parties that govern.
Bottomline: We’re hoping some San Mateo County folks apply and are appointed to the Citizens Redistricting Commission.