The California Citizens Redistricting Commission recently approved the final drafts of the state’s new district maps, setting the stage for its next challenge–potential lawsuits. The commission must formally certify the maps by August 15 and present them to the secretary of state, although Californians can challenge the districts in court or at the polls. Redistricting is always a heated affair, no matter who is in charge, and creating new maps for 53 congressional districts, 120 legislative districts, and four State Board of Equalization districts is bound to make some groups and individuals unhappy.
Whatever the outcome, the successful creation and implementation of the Commission should still be applauded. Rather than focusing on protecting party interests, map-makers worked to keep communities of interest together, while considering geographical compactness, and protecting minority representation. Of course, balancing these many considerations was no easy task, and compromises had to be made. In the process, the Commission fielded nearly 20,000 written comments in addition to the 2,700 comments made at 34 public hearings across the state.
With the redistricting process nearly complete, many are beginning to wonder about the future of the 14 commissioners. They serve 10-year terms and once the maps are finalized, it is unclear what they will work on next, or for the next nine years.