California
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by independent redistricting commission
State BoundariesDrawn by independent redistricting commission
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Elevated

State Legislative

Alert:
Elevated

Related content

Process

Independent Redistricting Commission

California's state legislative and congressional districts are drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. The commission was established after the passage of California Proposition 11, or the Voters First Act, in 2008 for state legislative districts, and Proposition 20 in 2010 for congressional districts. The commission consists of 14 members: five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independents or voters affiliated with another party.

Members of the commission are selected through a rigorous process. Initial and supplemental applications, due in late 2019, were reviewed by the Applicant Review Panel (ARP). After selecting and conducting interviews with the 120 most qualified candidates by May 2020, the ARP narrowed the pool down to 60, divided evenly across party affiliations. The Legislature had until the end of June to remove up to 24 applicants. The State Auditor then randomly selected the first eight commissioners from the remaining list, and these eight themselves selected the final six.

  • Learn more about the 2021 commissioners on the CCRC website.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, California’s state constitution (Art. XXI § 2) requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact, contiguous, preserve political subdivisions, and preserve communities of interest, defined 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.” Consideration of partisan data is prohibited except where required by federal law, as is favoring or disfavoring an incumbent, candidate for office, or political party.

In 2011, California passed AB 420, ending the practice of prison gerrymandering and reassigning currently incarcerated populations to their last-known place of residence for the purpose of redistricting.

Public Input

Throughout the process, the Commission must receive broad public input through an open hearing process, both before and after drafting district maps (Cal. Gov’t Code § 8253(a)(7)). In the 2011 redistricting cycle, the Commission held 34 public meetings in which more than 2,700 people participated, with an additional 20,000 written comments submitted. Following the state Supreme Court’s approval of a four-month redistricting delay, a similar public input process is likely in 2021.

2011 Cycle

In the 2011 redistricting cycle, there were concerns about the demographic makeup of the Redistricting Commission. Initially, 74% of the applicants by mid-January were white, raising worries about minority underrepresentation. However, of the 14 members ultimately selected, just three self-identified as white. On the other end of the spectrum, the plaintiffs in Connerly v. California essentially challenged affirmative action in the selection process for the commission, as state statutes (Cal. Gov’t Code § 8253(g)) specify that the appointees “shall be chosen to ensure the commission reflects this state’s diversity.” The lawsuit argued that this violates Proposition 209, which prohibits preferential treatment on the basis of race or sex in public employment. The state Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit.

In terms of legal challenges to the redistricting plans themselves, the California Supreme Court denied all cases.

Issues

Partisan Influence

There may be concerns about partisan influence in the Commission’s public input process. In December 2011, ProPublica, an investigative journalism organization, published a story alleging that the California Democratic Party manipulated the Commission by enlisting testimony during public hearings. The Commission issued a formal response, acknowledging the inevitability of partisan interests but denying any undue influence. Such partisan allegations may resurface in 2021.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, California has lost a congressional seat for the first time in its history.

Actions

Participate in the Commission’s public input process.

  • Obtain California redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the commission starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

California Citizens Commission

Shape California's Future

California Local Redistricting Project

California Common Cause

League of Women Voters of California

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia