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District lines take shape

Posted: November 17, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2011 1:30 a.m.

The redrawn electoral maps for state Assembly and Senate and for congressional districts have been certified, but a few challenges remain to the state’s first citizens-drawn districts.

The new districts apply to June 2012 elections and others held through the next decade — unless they are overturned.

A group called Fairness & Accountability In Redistricting, with the help of the California Republican Party, had until Sunday to submit a petition that would essentially rip up the maps drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Court-drafted districts would replace the commission-drawn ones under the petition.

That deadline passed without the petitions being filed, and so has the deadline for filing new state court challenges, commission spokesman Rob Wilcox said in an email Wednesday.

On Oct. 26, the California Supreme Court unanimously dismissed two legal challenges previously filed.

There is still a chance, however, that the entire proposed electoral blueprint hammered out over the summer can be scrapped and sent back to the drawing board.

A legal challenge similar to the defeated court filings is expected to be filed in federal court, Wilcox said.

In addition, signature-gathering for a referendum challenging the commission’s state Senate maps has been completed.

The signatures were submitted to county registrars, and the process of verifying those signatures is now under way, Wilcox said.

The referendum needs 504,760 qualified signatures of registered voters to be placed on the November 2012 ballot.
Santa Clarita Valley residents sought to keep their community in single Assembly, state Senate and congressional districts to solidify its voting power.

While largely successful in congressional and Assembly districts, the valley was split in two separate Sente districts under the maps produced by the redistricting commission.

The commission is a group of citizens formed for this first time under new state law and approved by voters as a way to take politics out of the process of redrawing districts.

However, some critics of the commission claimed the group had several political agendas. Democrats generally came out the winner in the process, consolidating their power in the Legislature.

Every 10 years, new district lines are drawn to reflect new census numbers. Previously, those lines were drawn by elected legislators, who often had an interest in preserving their power bases.

The 14-member commission was formed in an effort to better reflect the character of the state’s many communities and to end gerrymandering.


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