The redistricting commission will use community input, along with the Census data, to draw the lines for up to 176 election districts.
By Alicia Fernández, Special to CalMatters
Alicia Fernández is chair of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Commission@wedrawthelinesca.org.
Because “We the People” should select our representatives and not the other way around, the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission was established in 2008 by citizen initiative.
For the redistricting commission to draft fair and representative congressional, state Senate, state Assembly and Board of Equalization district maps, we need communities to tell us about themselves. We also need Census 2020 data, including the number of congressional districts allocated to California.
Due to delays in receiving data from the U.S. Census, communities of interest will have more time to identify where they are located, how they are connected and why it is crucial to be represented in the same district.
Traditionally, states receive redistricting data by March 31. This year, because of delays in collecting the data due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau released the reapportionment data on April 26 and announced plans to release redistricting data in legacy format on Aug. 16.
Under the California Constitution, the redistricting commission is mandated to submit its final maps to the Secretary of State by Aug. 15. The six-month delay in receiving the Census data would make it impossible for the redistricting commission to meet this mandate. On July 17, 2020, in Legislature of CA v. Alex Padilla, the California Supreme Court ruled that the redistricting commission should have until Dec. 15, 2021, to submit its final maps due to the delay in the release of the Census results. The court further ruled that if Census results are received after July 31, the redistricting commission’s Dec. 15 deadline is to be extended on a day-for-day basis.
The redistricting commission is working to develop a timeline that ensures that it has adequate time for significant public input in the process and the review of draft maps while enabling the state to implement the 2022 elections effectively.
While the redistricting commission waits for Census data to begin drawing district maps, we are taking the time to educate communities about the redistricting process and are taking communities of interest input online, which will help us identify community boundaries. This new tool is meant to increase participation in the redistricting process and is available for all Californians.
The redistricting commission is committed to creating an open, accessible and transparent process for all Californians. To achieve this, we need to hear from your community through our community input process.
Communities are groups of people with strong connections. Those connections can be cultural, economic, geographic or social. Given the various types of communities, individuals can belong to more than one community. For instance, a group of women who fish in Lake B and who are concerned with keeping their lake free of pollution could identify themselves as a community of interest.
We invite you to talk with your neighbors and others in your communities to identify what makes your community special. What is your community’s identity? And what issues bind you together? The redistricting commission will use community input along with the Census data to draw the lines for up to 176 districts – approximately 52 congressional districts, 40 state Senate districts, 80 state Assembly districts, and four State Board of Equalization districts.
We invite you to share your communities’ stories and locations through our Community of Interest Tool – DrawMyCACommunity.org – where you can electronically submit a map and tell us about your community. If you prefer paper and pen, we will be distributing a paper “Community of Interest Tool” to complete and return to the redistricting commission. Finally, our website lists other ways you can connect with the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Visit us at: WeDrawTheLinesCA.org.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.