California Citizen's Redistricting Commission

December 10, 2012 Mattww
November 13, 2012 Mattww

Mission and Purpose

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is a political redistricting organization that operates on behalf of the state of California. Its main responsibilities include evaluating the 2010 United States Census in order to determine new Senate, Assembly and Board of Equilization districts for the next decade. [3]


Prior to 2010, redistricting in California was conducted by the California legislature. Since the party that controls the Assembly and Senate will appoint its own members to the redistricting commission, the entire process was marred by partisan politics. In fact, between 2000 and 2010 the California Congressional Delegation was so safe that only one seat switched parties in 255 races. [4]

It was for this reason that a group of concerned citizens desired for an independant commission to take over the redistricting process. These citizens began a campaign for a voter-approved redistricting commission and hired Kimball Petition Management to collect the signatures required for ballot submittal. As an initiated constitutional amendment, 694,354 signatures were required for qualification. These signatures were submitted to election officials on May 6, 2008. On June 17th, 2008, the California Secretary of State announced that a check of the signatures established that the measure had indeed qualified as Proposition 11.

California Proposition 11 (2008) Election Results [18] (As of 11/14/12)

Yes 6,095,033 50.9%

No 5,897,655 49.1%

The commission was created in November 2008 following the passage of Proposition 11 in California (also known as the Voters First Act). The passage of this measure created the commission and tasked them with redrawing the Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts in California. In 2010, Proposition 20 (also known as the Voters First Act for Congress) was subsequently proposed. Proposition 20's passage assigned the responsibility of redrawing the state’s Congressional District boundaries to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission as well. The Commission faced opposition from incumbent California politicians because "many safe seats in the Legislature could suddenly become competitive." [6]

California Proposition 20 (2010) Election Results [19] (As of 11/14/12)

Yes 5,743,069 61.3%

No 3,636,892 38.7%

The passage of Proposition 11 and 20 authorized changes in the California Constitution which required that the commission have 14 members, comprised of three groups of registered voters—5 who are registered with the largest political party in the state, 5 who are registered with the second largest political party in the state, and 4 who are not registered with either of these parties. The commissioners were selected in November and December 2010 and were required to complete the redistricting by August 15, 2011. [9] Actions by the commission to adopt district boundaries required the approval of nine commissioners, including at least three “yes” votes from each of the three groups of commissioners. [9]

Commission Selection and Processes

Commissioner Application

After the passage of Proposition 11 in November 2008, the California Bureau of State Audits (BSA) adopted the stipulations to the Constitution on October 20, 2009. This paved the way for the Applicant Review Panel to be randomly selected on November 16, 2009. The website opened with an application to be on the commission. The application opened on December 15, 2009 and was available through February 16, 2010. Soon after, the BSA decided to add new regulations which stipulated that the first eight commissioners selected would interview and choose the remaining six.

The California State Auditor estimates that over 30,000 applications were received for the commission. After preliminary eliminations of incomplete applications and those not taken seriously, a secondary application was sent out to those who applied on February 17, 2010 and was available until April 19, 2010. 5,000 applications were resubmitted and from those a three-member panel from the BSA reviewed the applications and conducted interviews to establish a pool of 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans and 20 applicants from neither major party. This list of 60 names was then forwarded to the California State Legislature on September 29, 2010.

After the 60 finalists' names were received, the California Assembly Speaker, the California Senate President Pro Tempore, and the minority leaders of both the Assembly and the Senate jointly reduced the pool to 12 members within each pool as required by law. The Legislature sent this list of names on November 12, 2010 back to the State Auditor who then randomly drew three Democrats, three Republicans and two applicants from neither major party to become commissioners. These eight commissioners were notified of their selection on November 18, 2010 and were quickly tasked with selecting the other six commissioners from the remaining pool by December 15, 2010.

Selected Commissioners

Executive Director

  • Daniel Claypool


  • Gabino Aguirre - Former farm worker from Santa Paula, CA
  • Angelo Ancheta - Law professor and legal scholar from San Francisco, CA
  • Maria Blanco - Vice-President of the California Community Foundation from Los Angeles, CA
  • Cynthia Dai - A social venture consultant from San Francisco, CA
  • Jeanne Raya - A commercial insurance agent from San Gabriel, CA


  • Vincent Barraba - Founder of an online marketing company from Capitola, CA
  • Jodie Filkins Webber - A self-employed insurance litigation defense attorney from Norco, CA
  • Lilbert "Gil" R. Ontai - A practicing architect and lecturer from San Diego, CA
  • Michael Ward - A doctor of Chiropractic and Sports Medicine from Anahiem, CA
  • Peter Yao - A city councilman from the city of Claremont, CA


  • Michelle R. DiGuilio - A non-profit executive from Stockton, CA
  • Stanley Forbes - An independent retail bookstore owner from Esparato, CA
  • Connie Galambos Malloy - An urban planning and policy organizer from Oakland, CA
  • M. Andre Parvenu - A geographer and urban planner from Culver City, CA

Read their full biographies here. [13]

Map Drawing Procedure

The Voters First Act of 2008 and the Voters First Act for Congress of 2010 amended Article XXI section 2(d) of the California Constitution to establish criteria that the Commission was obligated to follow as it began to create the new districts: [3]

  1. Population Equality - All districts must comply with the United States Constitutional requirement of "one person, one vote."
  2. Federal Voting Rights Act - All districts must ensure equal opportunity for minority candidates to be elected.
  3. Geographic Contiguity - All areas with a district must be connected. An exception is made for islands and peninsulas/isthmus.
  4. Geographic Integrity - All districts must minimize the division of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities of interest. A community of interest is defined as a population area that shares similar social and economic interests.
  5. Geographic Compactness - All districts must not bypass nearby communities for more distant communities.
  6. Nesting - Each Senate district shall comprise two whole Assembly districts. Board of Equalization districts shall be comprised of 10 Senate districts.

Ensuring Transparency

Incumbents, candidates or political parties could not be consulted during the district drawing process. Article XXI section 2(d) of the California Constitution also required that the Commission "conduct an open and transparent process enabling full public consideration and comment on the drawing of district lines." [14] Taking this into consideration, the Commission facilitated 34 hearings across the state and had 2700 citizens offer public testimony.

Organizations such as the League of Women Voters, California Forward, Common Cause, the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber), Equality California, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the Sierra Club also offered testimony to the Commission. The Commission's website also received 20,000 public comments that were taken into consideration. [13] [14]

Map Controversy

Since the process was so transparent, public testimony was often partisan in nature. These citizens hoped to influence the Commission during the hearing process to ensure that the new districts would be favorable to their political affiliation. In a very controversial article, investigative journalism publisher ProPublica found evidence that the California Democratic Party coordinated with members of the community to manipulate the process. [7] The California Republican Party was quick to call for an investigation, despite the fact that many members of the media believe the California Republican Party to have conducted similar efforts. [5] In response, the Commission issued a press release to ensure the public that it "had its eyes wide open" and "were not unduly influenced." [7] The State Auditor conducted a brief investigation and determined that even if the testimony was of partisan influence it was the first amendment rights of those citizens to do just so. Thus, no action needed to be taken and any further complaints could be taken up with the courts. [10]

In 2012, the opponents of the California Redistricting Commission decided instead to take their concerns to the ballot box. [10] On November 13, 2011 several concerned citizen sponsors turned in 504,760 signatures to qualify a "map repeal" measure to the ballot. If passed, this measure would ask the California Legislature re-draw the State Senate districts while leaving the other maps intact. On February 24, 2012, the California Secretary of State's office announced that the measure indeed qualified and would be classified as Proposition 40; although the language was very confusing to the average voter. [10] A "Yes" vote meant that the districts would be kept while a "No" vote would ask the California Legislature to redraw the districts once more.

While originally the California Republican Party took a stance against this proposition it was decided in Mid-July that they would abandon their "No on Proposition 40" campaign. [11] The Republican Party believed that after seeing primary election results the new districts were sufficient and switched their endorsement to "Yes on 40." Thus, both the California Republican and Democratic parties campaigned in favor of 40 to the point in which it was approved in the November 6, 2012 General Election. [11]

California Proposition 40 (2012) Election Results [20] (As of 11/14/12)

Yes 7,002,203 72.1%

No 2,711,824 27.9%

Commission Result Certification

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission certified its new district maps on August 15, 2011. [9] It was put to a vote using the "supermajority" that was stipulated by Article XXI section 2(c) and 2(g) of the California Constitution. Maps for the State Legislature passed each with a 13-1 vote. Maps for the Congressional districts passed with a 12-2 vote. [6]

Courtroom Challenges

Vandermost v. Bowen

In January of 2012, the California Supreme Court declared that the State Senate redistricting maps generated by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission were constitutional; finding them in compliance with both the United States Constitution and the California Constitution. [21] The justices also ruled unanimously that pursuant to 2008's Proposition 11, the new maps could be used in the 2012 General Election (Even if Proposition 40 qualified for the ballot, which it did).

In response to the filing of additional lawsuits, the United States Department of Justice granted preclearance of the Commission's maps under Section 5 of the Federal Voting Rights Act. [8] This streamlined the map implementation and ensured that they would take effect during the June 12th, 2012 Presidential Primary even if litigation was still pending. [8]

Long Term Impacts

While it can be difficult to judge the impact of non-partisan redistricting right away, independent studies completed by the Public Policy Institute of California, the National Journal, and Ballotpedia have concluded that California now has some of the most competitive legislative districts in America. [1] This creates a breadth of opportunities for elected officials to face their constituents and ensures that elections are more focused on substance than turnout.

After the November 6, 2012 presidential election many in the media and the political community are using the California Citizens Redistricting Commission as precedent for future independent redistricting commissions. While its results may have caused some longtime incumbents to lose primary races, it opened up a "new broad base of constituents" as stated by newly elected Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell who beat 30 year incumbent Pete Stark. [12] While the article agrees that the immediate impact has been impressive, "it will take a few elections to truly judge the effectiveness of California's new voting and redistricting reforms." [12]


Under Proposition 11, the Legislature would continue to appropriate funding for the redistricting of U.S. House of Representatives districts. In addition, this measure authorizes funding (outside of the Legislature's budget) for redistricting efforts related to legislative and Board of Equalization districts. Here is a breakdown of that funding:

Total Redistriciting Approprations and expenditures (link)

  • BSA APPROPRIATION - BUDGET ACT of 2009 $ 500,000
  • CRC APPROPRIATION - BUDGET ACT of 2009 $ 2,375,000
  • CRC BUDGET ACT of 2010 & PROVISION 2 $ 1,000,000
  • CRC BUDGET ACT of 2011 & PROVISION 1 $ 1,900,000
  • CRC SAB APPROPRIATION 2012 (SB 83) $ 339,000
  • CRC SAB PROVISION 2 (SB 83) $ 30,000
  • CRC SAB PROVISION 3 (SB 83) $ 82,000
  • SUB TOTAL $ 6,921,000
  • TOTAL $ 10,449,728

PublicationsMaps Final Draft: Assembly Districts

Secondary Sources

  1. California's citizen commission final district maps: Find out what's changed where you live.
  2. Berkley District Maps GIS
  3. Yes on Prop 40 for fair redistricting
  4. Proposition 40 – Redistricting, State Senate Districs, Referendum
  5. California vs. the Gerrymander: Why Republicans Are Quaking
  6. District maps draw a new political landscape
  7. ProPublica: Scandal in California Redistricting?
  8. Top Court Rejects Redistricting Challenge
  9. Citizen Panel Certifies Califiornia Political Maps
  10. CAGOP to Seek Redistricting Reform
  11. Proposition 40: An Abandoned Measure
  12. California Reforms Produce Surprises

External Links

  1. Official Website
  2. View Meetings (Video)
  3. Meeting Transcripts
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Contact Information
  6. Ballotpedia: Proposition 11
  7. Ballotpedia: Proposition 20
  8. California Secretary of State: Proposition 40 Results
  9. Supreme Court Ruling on Vandermost v. Bowen

Public Comments