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Redistricting Commisioners

Every ten years, voting districts are reassigned in accordance to the census data. This redrawing of district maps can determine the power of an individual's vote when it comes to representative elections. Though there are public redistricting hearings, there are commissioners confirmed by the state senate that are responsible for finalizing the maps.

By Emma Lin, Benjamin Qiao, Praghna Palaparthy

Edited: Naomi Lin

 
Introduction

Every ten years, the federal government releases new census information, and states must redraw their congressional, Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts to properly represent the state’s updated population. Recently, the 2020 federal census was released, so California will now have to redraw their state legislative districts. California voters passed the Voters First Act of 2008, placing the power of drawing electoral boundaries in the hands of a commission rather than the state legislature. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is responsible for this process, and it is stipulated by law that the commission be comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four nonpartisan affiliates which totals14 commissioners. In order to ensure fair representation for all, the Commission must draw district lines in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population.


The Commission is given a time frame of one year to draft and approve the district maps. During the one year time frame, the commissioners hold public meetings to receive input from the general populace, review and discuss relevant data, schedule meetings and hearings, notify interested parties, and communicate the Commission’s progress. They plan out the House of Representatives districts, forty Senate districts, eighty Assembly districts, and four Board of Equalization districts, and vote for a map that will be used for the next ten years.


Two main types of redistricting committees exist: a committee where members can hold political office and a committee where members cannot hold political office. California’s redistricting committee is the second type.

In most states where redistricting committees do not exist, the legislature is in charge of the redistricting process. Because their jobs depend on the outcome of votes, gerrymandering, where political parties manipulate redistricting for political gain, is very common. By preventing the people responsible for redistricting from holding office positions helps make the redistricting process more impartial.

 

Qualifications / appointment process for Becoming a Commissioner


Measures against conflict of interest are aptly summed in this line sourced from Loyola Law School: "Neither commissioners nor immediate family may have been, within 10 years of appointment, a candidate for federal or state office or member of a party central committee; an officer, employee, or paid consultant to a federal or state candidate or party; a registered lobbyist or paid legislative staff; or a donor of more than $2,000 to an elected candidate." Every candidate must have a proper voting registration. Furthermore, according to the California Secretary of State, candidates cannot have been convicted of a felony involving bribery, theft of public money, or attempt to commit any of those crimes. A study done by FBI — California shows us that the overall Robbery and Burglary rate in 2019 was over 10,000 committed felonies. According to Crime in California during the COVID-19 Pandemic, between 2019 and 2020, when the pandemic hit, the robberies decreased by 14% in California. It continues indicating “that the candidates should not be an officer, agent, or employee of an insurer or directly or indirectly in any insurer or licensee under the California insurance code.” California Commissioner of Insurance mentions that the Commissioner elected cannot have any personal financial interest in the California insurance industry, be at least 18 years of age, and be a California resident. And finally, the Commissioner should also not be a member of the Communist Party or any other organization that advocates treasonous acts against the U.S. government.


Educational requirements necessary are specified by Qualifications, “Require a minimum of 20 hours of approved pre-licensing study…Require 12 hours of approved pre-licensing study on the California Insurance Code and ethics”. For continued education, “Licensee shall satisfactorily complete approved courses or programs of instruction or attend seminars equivalent to 24 hours of instruction during each two-year license period, including at least 3 hours of ethics training, before their license may be renewed."


As asserted by Commissioner Appointments, the appointment process begins with completing a list of extended applications. The applications, along with the resume, should later be emailed to the Board's officer. The Commissioner would subsequently be chosen by the California governor and confirmed by the Senate.


Each currently running candidate has the crucial skills needed for becoming the California Commissioner. For example, Sara Sadhwani, a highly experienced applicant, is a member of the Democratic party and is based in Los Angeles county. Her experience is highlighted by Commissioner Biographies | California Citizens Redistricting Commission, she is an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College who specializes in American politics, racial and ethnic politics, and public policy, she is currently a faculty at USC Schwarzenegger Institute where she co-authored a policy report, she worked for advocating for the rights of immigrants at social justice organizations such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and the California Immigrant Policy Center. She also has a doctorate in political science from the University of Southern California.


Another candidate with remarkable skills is Alicia Fernández, who is currently registered with the Republican party; she is based in Yolo county. She is presently a senior special Agent supervising a team of special agents who conduct investigations regarding internal affairs. She has over 30 years of experience working for California and excels in internal affairs investigations, fraud and background investigations, auditing, procurement, budgeting, contracting, and project management. In addition, she has been a School Board Trustee for 14 years and was the first Hispanic School Board Trustee to be elected. She has a Bachelor's degree in Science and a Master's in Business Administration degree from CSU.


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