Proposition 20: Redistricting of Congressional Districts

The Question

Should the state Constitution be amended to have the Citizens Redistricting Commission redistrict for the U.S. House of Representatives, to change existing redistricting criteria, and to reduce the redistricting timeline?

The Situation

California’s population continues to increase and be very mobile. Accordingly, every ten years, following the Federal census, the districts from which we elect our representatives must be adjusted to make the districts roughly equal in population. This process is known as "redistricting."

In November 2008, voters passed Proposition 11, which created the Citizens Redistricting Commission and transferred the responsibility for redistricting for the state Legislature and the Board of Equalization from the state Legislature to the Commission. The Legislature continues to redistrict for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In addition to containing roughly equal populations, boundaries for these offices must meet certain criteria under federal and state law, including:

  • Keeping cities, counties, neighborhoods, and communities of interest whole.
  • Disregarding consideration of political parties, incumbents, or candidates (applicable to state offices but not congressional offices).

Both the Commission and the state Legislature must solicit public comment on the proposed redistricting plans they develop. The redistricting plans may also be subject to voter approval under the state’s referendum process or be challenged before the state Supreme Court.

The Proposal

This proposition would amend the state Constitution to transfer redistricting for the U.S. House of Representatives from the state Legislature to the Commission. The Commission’s adjustment of congressional districts would be subject to the same criteria as the other districts.

While the determination of what constitutes a “community of interest” in the above criteria is left entirely to the discretion of the Commission, Proposition 20 defines a community of interest as “a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.”

The Commission’s workload would be increased by approximately one-third by adding Congressional redistricting, but the proposition would reduce the time available for the redistricting process from approximately five months to approximately four. 

Conflicting Propositions: See also Proposition 27 on this ballot, which would eliminate the Redistricting Commission entirely, and return the entire redistricting process to the state Legislature. If both propositions are approved by the voters, the one with fewer votes would be eliminated.

Fiscal Effect

Having a single entity perform all redistricting activities might decrease redistricting expenditures. However, overall, there would probably be no significant change in such costs.

Supporters Say

  • Prop 20 will create fair congressional districts, making our representatives more accountable.
  • Realizing they are accountable, our representatives will work to solve the state’s serious problems.
  • Voters already created the Commission—it’s common sense to have it draw congressional districts along with state districts.

Opponents Say

  • Prop 20 will needlessly waste taxpayer dollars by adding additional work to the Commission, an irresponsible bureaucracy.
  • Prop 20 does not guarantee fairness. The Commission is not accountable to the voters.
  • The definition of communities of interest could lead to some groups being spread among multiple districts.

Official Contact Information

Supporters:  Yes on 20, No on 27–Hold Politicians Accountable http://yesprop20.org/  

Opponents:  No on 20 • http://www.noprop20.org/

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