Referendum On State Senate Redistricting Drawn By Citizens Redistricting Commission
Proposition 40 is another in a series of redistricting ballot measures in the last several election cycles and reflects the deeply partisan and complex nature of redistricting efforts. This referendum—to uphold the work of the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission—was sponsored by conservatives who are fearful that the newly-drawn legislative districts will reflect California’s changing demographics, resulting in an increase in the Democratic majority in the state senate.
As a referendum, the central question is: Should the newly redrawn districts be upheld? While a potential source of confusion for voters, the sponsors of the proposition will themselves be taking a “no” position. If a majority of voters also vote “no,” this referendum would invalidate the senate districts created by the commission and require that the process begin all over again—an especially difficult task given that the June primary elections were already conducted using the commission’s redrawn state senate district lines.
While some may remain unhappy with the commission’s line-drawing efforts, it is now time to put an end to this lengthy and expensive redistricting process. There is no reason to believe that the commission’s work is flawed; to the contrary, the most recent demographic data (from the 2010 Census) was used to inform the decisions of the well-vetted commission. A California Supreme Court challenge, aimed at blocking the enactment of these new state senate districts before the June primary elections, failed. Thus, this referendum merely represented the opponents’ last attempt to get a second bite at this redistricting apple via the ballot box. But after this referendum qualified, those opponents announced that they have abandoned their efforts and will not campaign against Proposition 40. Even without this concession of defeat, it is clear that Proposition 40 (and the initiative system more generally) is an inappropriate mechanism for reviewing redistricting decisions made by an independent body that performed its job in a conscientious fashion. Therefore, Bend the Arc urges all Californians to vote YES on Proposition 40.