Burton, (916) 485-5741
Date: For Immediate Release
(March 25, 2007)
The Citizens Fair Districts
Initiate Will Restore
Integrity to the Redistricting Process
Republicans of River City applauds Ted Costa and Peoples Advocate for filing with the Attorney General’s Office an initiative called "The Citizens Fair Districts Act", which will create an independent redistricting commission to handle redistricting and set specific criteria for all future redistricting plans.
“It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” said Carl Burton, President of Republicans of River City. “The people of California want a redistricting process that represents their democratically-expressed wishes, rather than one which only serves partisan political goals.”
Under current law, the legislature itself draws up redistricting plans. Whichever party is in the majority in the legislature has traditionally used its redistricting power to maximize its own representation in Congress and the state legislature, while minimizing the representation of the minority party. The result has been that the actual voting patterns of the people are rarely reflected in the outcome of elections. Furthermore, by creating districts completely dominated by a single party, partisan redistricting results in there being very few truly competitive legislative districts in California.
Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee wrote: “Only unreasonable people - or self-interested politicians - can defend the 2001 bipartisan gerrymander that virtually eliminated competition in 153 legislative and congressional districts, and thus disenfranchised millions of California voters.” Not one legislative seat has change party hands since the 2001.”
“Partisan redistricting makes a mockery of everything that American democracy is supposed to stand for,” Burton said. “If Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and the other Founding Fathers could see how we have handled redistricting in California, they would be appalled. We need to fix this and we need to do it now.”
The independent redistricting commission which would be created by "The Citizens Fair Districts Act" initiative has strict conflict-of-interest provisions, designed to ensure that no one with a personal stake in the outcome will be involved in the drawing up of redistricting plans.
Furthermore, specific criteria are laid out for redistricting plans. Most importantly, the commission is forbidden from favoring or discriminating against any political party, thus preventing the creation of overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic districts. Existing political subdivision boundaries, such as county lines and city limits, are taken into consideration, while every district must be shaped as compactly and conveniently as possible.
“It’s so simple that any child can understand it: each party will have a proportion of representation as equal as possible to its share of the vote,” Burton added.
Ted Costa’s "The Citizens Fair Districts Act" stands a good chance to become law because it was drafted with the support of California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the San Francisco-based Voices of Reform and each organization is supporting the measure. They decided to draft this proposal after a redistricting bill died in the Legislature last fall.
“The upcoming election provides a unique opportunity for the citizens of California to act on this issue,” Burton said. "Democrats, Republicans, Decline to State voters and other political parties in the state of California should take advantage of this window of opportunity and make redistricting reform a top priority.”
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