Redistricting Updates

The following article is from our Spring, 2008 newsletter:

California’s quest for redistricting reform took some interesting twists in recent months. Through them all the Rose Institute remains on the cutting edge of redistricting reform and education outreach.

The blog has brought obscure reports to widespread public attention, including items on computerized redistricting algorithms, redistricting as a dictator’s tool in Zimbabwe, and redistricting reform efforts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other states. The dedicated work on the blog by Matt Peterson and Dan Mitchell resulted in multiple references to the Rose Institute in the Sacramento Bee and other leading California news outlets.

Voters First Redistricting InitiativeOf course, many Rose Report blog news and commentary items focused on the latest redistricting reform effort in California: the “Voters First” reform effort led by Governor Schwarzenegger, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly, Common Cause, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and AARP.

In hopes of avoiding significant opposition from California Congressional leaders, Voters First covers only legislative redistricting – Congressional redistricting is left in the hands of the legislature and Governor. This attempt to avoid opposition from Speaker Pelosi triggered opposition from past reform advocates such as activist Ted Costa and Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes.

In a repeat of his Machiavellian 2005 reform-blocking maneuver, Speaker Núñez recently announced his renewed hopes to pass redistricting reform through the legislature. It remains to be seen whether this is a serious push for reform, or an attempt to undermine the Voters First proposal by placing a directly competing measure on the ballot. As we learned in 1990, two measures on the ballot is a guarantee of failure for both. In 2005 in the campaign against Proposition 77, the Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem both asked voters to vote no on Proposition 77 in exchange for a pledge that the legislature would put a “better” reform measure on the ballot. Thirty months later, the State Senate has approved three different redistricting reform measures. The Assembly has failed to vote on any of them. The various redistricting reform movements continue to find Rose Institute materials useful and informational. At forums with elementary school students, the Pasadena City Council, and in various communities across the state, Common Cause has used maps and other resources from the Institute to better educate the public.

We, in a current study, aim to answer the question of whether California cities are becoming more or less politically polarized since 1976. As they grow, do Democratic towns tend to attract more Democrats and do Republican towns tend to attract more Republicans thus increasing polarization/segregation?

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