Why it matters
Redistricting matters because the drawing of district lines determines who represents you in elected office. Areas that are included - and excluded - from these districts impacts which communities will have a voice in selecting their representative. It also affects which communities will have influence with their elected officials.
Redistricting will determine political representation for the next ten years. When elected officials draw district lines, they get to design their own territory and choose who votes for them. This can lead to discriminatory manipulation that weakens the voting strength of targeted communities, also allowing partisan manipulation that favors one political party over another.
The League believes that districts should be drawn by independent, special citizen-run Commissions that use fair criteria to help keep communities intact and to ensure that everyone is equally represented.
What is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is the intentional manipulation of the redistricting process by the people with political power to keep that political power. When legislators draw their own districts, they have an interest in drawing lines that will ensure that they can be re-elected.
The League opposes gerrymandering. We were leaders in the movement to create California’s independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in order to ensure that the process is transparent, the players are accountable, partisanship is minimized, and our election district maps are drawn more fairly. Furthermore, we built in rules to guarantee that Commission members reflect California’s diversity.
What have we done?
The League works for fair maps at every level of government. California’s state-level independent, non-partisan redistricting system has garnered national recognition. Unfortunately, local gerrymandering persists.
Local Redistricting: Redistricting is most commonly associated with redrawing state legislative or congressional districts. But lines have to be redrawn at all levels of government where lawmakers are elected by district, including local offices like a City Council or school board. Because we have seen incumbents in California use the local line drawing process to disenfranchise growing racial and language minority communities, and to reduce the voting power of political minorities, we advocate for legislation to ensure that fair maps are drawn for local elections.
- In 2016, we co-sponsored legislation (SB 1108) to authorize all California counties and general law cities to establish independent citizen commissions to redraw district lines.
- In 2018, we supported SB 1018, which clarified the original intent of SB 1108 on two matters:
- Commissions may be used for an initial districting and not simply redistricting.
- Hybrid commissions, where both the local government and commission share authority in adopting final maps, must meet the same standards of independence and transparency required of independent commissions.
- In 2019 and 2020, we cosponsored the Fair Maps Act, AB 849, and AB 1276. They bring fair redistricting criteria to California’s cities and counties. AB 849 prohibits partisan gerrymandering, standardizes criteria, and prioritizes intact neighborhoods and diverse communities. AB 1276 ensured that the new requirements would fit within the California election schedule. These new laws represent an extension of the LWVUS’ People Powered Fair Maps Campaign a coordinated effort to reform redistricting across the country.
Workshop on Local Redistricting Rules
The 2021 California LWV convention held a workshop to discuss the rules for local redistricting. You can view this 30 minute session here:
LWVC 2021 Workshop on Local Redistricting Rules