Some worry California Citizens Redistricting Commission lacks diversity in applicant pool

State Auditor Elaine Howle’s office oversees the selection of California’s 14 redistricting commissioners.

Despite requests from more than 20 civic groups that she keep recruiting applicants for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission past the present Aug. 9 deadline, state Auditor Elaine Howle doesn’t appear to believe it is necessary. 

Last week, California Common Cause, the California NAACP and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials were among the organizations that asked that the deadline be moved to Sept. 30. They cited statistics showing that whites were heavily overrepresented in the first 7,500 applicants, that Latinos and Asian Americans were heavily underrepresented, and that women were somewhat underrepresented.

“California voters only get one shot every 10 years to draw the lines that shape our future,” their letter to Howle said. “We, the people, want a chance to make a real impact for our families, neighborhood and state.”

Common Cause chief says applicants not diverse enough

Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of California Common Cause, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the redistricting commission had gotten a much worse response than in its recruitment efforts before the 2010 census, when there were about 30,000 applicants. That was the first time the commission handled redistricting after being created by Proposition 11, a 2008 ballot measure that put the state auditor’s office in charge of setting up the commission.

“We need differing views on the commission, and not just ethnic views,” Lopez-Calderon said. “[We] need people who know the different parts of the state.”

But in a news release on Tuesday, Howle didn’t address or give any credence to the civic groups’ concerns.

“I am pleased to announce that as of this morning, over 10,300 Californians have stepped forward for a chance to serve on the second 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission,” Howle’s statement said. “This is great news for direct democracy! As we enter the final days of the initial application period, my staff and I will continue working to encourage even more eligible individuals throughout the state to apply.”

After applications close, Howle’s office expects to come up with a list of 40 finalists by next April. The committee’s 14 members will be chosen by Aug. 15, 2020. Under the rules of Proposition 11, the commission includes five Democrats, five Republicans and four people who are independents, decline to state a party preference or are members of another party. 

U.S. Supreme Court: Partisan gerrymandering allowed

The ballot measure was passed over the bipartisan objections of most of the state’s political establishment at the behest of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and good-government groups. They successfully argued that the task should be taken away from the state Legislature because it had long since proven it drew election district boundaries to protect incumbents. In 2004, for example, not a single one of California’s then-51 House seats changed parties.

But the belief that partisan gerrymandering is fundamentally bad and must be avoided took a huge blow from the U.S. Supreme Court in June. On a 5-4 vote, the court’s conservative majority declined to force changes to extreme gerrymanders adopted by Republican lawmakers in North Carolina and by Democratic lawmakers in Maryland.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.” 


Write a comment
  1. Queeg
    Queeg 2 August, 2019, 20:35


    Let it rip- go to Pier One and Big Lots and pick out a random dozen.

    Whata you got to lose?

    Reply this comment
  2. Jay Bird
    Jay Bird 8 August, 2019, 10:39

    If Republicans and Independents make up over 50% of the voters in California, why isn’t that reflected in our state congressional district maps?

    Where is my representation?

    Will there be fairness in this independent redistricting process?

    Reply this comment
    • oregon bill
      oregon bill 9 August, 2019, 07:17

      You don’t understand, Jay Bird. The two-party/one-party system was not reliably ‘progressive’ enough.Things were falling behind schedule. A hard-core One Party Soviet-style system was the ONLY way. And look how far we’ve come!! The ‘progress’ is palpable! California is simply the mirror image of New York, where the same political dynamic holds sway.

      1) Most importantly, the hereditary elites (Newsomes, Browns, Pelosis, Fiensteins etc.) are now INSANELY WEALTHY without EVER having held any kind of private-sector employment. I mean what could be more important?

      2) Cities flooded with HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of sick filthy addicted mentally ill homeless people. Progressive COMPASSION at its very finest! Nothing more exciting to see than Nancy Pelosi’s stretch limo gliding past the many miles of tent cities in the early morning, before the residents have woken up, scratched their flea bites and DEFECATED IN THE STREET.

      3) MIgrants, migrants, migrants!! The vibrancy of the Congo meets the work ethic of Vietnam. ALL COME! Nowhere else on Earth can the 7 billion strong impoverished masses get free top notch health care, housing (see point #2), cash assistance WHILE THEY WORK (undercutting the wages of actual Californians, who end up on the street).

      And WAIT! There’s so much more to come! You’re going to LOVE the next 25 years……..

      Reply this comment
      • Queeg
        Queeg 9 August, 2019, 09:57

        Comrade Billy

        So nice of you, from Oregon, enlightening the few remaining
        Doomers of the grim years to come in Kali.

        Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 August, 2019, 12:14

    This is a super boring topic. Though have to admit the all for the kids party has just begun…..more fees….more taxes…..more hoops….more mazes..

    Super hot working the travel trailer for business is pretty brisk.

    Ran out of carmel for that comfort bunker favorite Machiato thingee and had to send Queeg to Elsinore to restock at Big Betty’s Confectionary.

    August Special for doomer movers:

    Pair of MAGA flip flops, a Bernie sweat band or a Fauxcahontas certified true biography…..

    And here to serve seven days a week….open to midnight on weekends too.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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