A Hefty Redistricting Referendum

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CA Citizens Redistricting Commission

When the petition to overturn the new state Senate maps hits the streets this weekend, it's going to be not a page, but a packet.

Signature gatherers are being required to tote along not just a page for voter signatures, but also a copy of the formal resolution certifying the districts, the entire statewide map, and maps of all 40 Senate districts.... thus running as much as eight pages.

Attorney General Kamala Harris issued the official title and summary for the Senate redistricting referendum at midday today (PDF), a fairly simple statement that says the proponents seek to overturn the districts drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

But Harris has also directed the campaign to have copies of the actual maps available for any voter who wants to see the districts for themselves.

On Monday, redistricting commissioners met by conference call to discuss the matter, and decided to ask the AG to require even more information be carried by signature gatherers: the maps plus the commission's official narrative for how they went about drawing the Senate boundaries. That request was apparently denied.

The commission's draft letter to the AG met (PDF) with a sharp jab from California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro in a Tuesday letter.

"With due respect, the commission has no competence to opine on what is 'referendable,'" wrote Del Beccaro. "The Commission's draft letter smacks of an attempt to interfere with, and thwart, the referendum process," he wrote.

Del Beccaro's letter makes it clear that he believes the item subject to referendum is only the certified statewide map, not the additional documents.

On Wednesday, proponents submitted a modified referendum that includes the lengthy packet (PDF), after being requested to do so by the AG's office.

The cost of circulating a ballot measure, be it a referendum or an initiative, is borne by the proponents. Not that the extra pages is likely a huge cost, but in a campaign where fundraising may already be tight it's likely that every penny counts. So far, the committee has reported only about $117,000 in contributions -- mostly from five sitting GOP state senators -- but backers say more money is on the way. A referendum campaign means a lot of signatures in small amount of time, and it's not cheap; by way of example, the campaign to overturn the state's new online sales tax law has $5.25 million, all from online giant Amazon.

Dave Gilliard, the campaign manager for the effort, says he thinks the commission's request for the extra pages was a deliberate attempt to make the signature campaign both too expensive and "onerous" to pull off. Nonetheless, he says they'll make it work -- primarily because they're now printing double-sided pages of the maps, with one than one Senate district per side.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.
  • Hello

    Too bad they are not required to carry around the history of the Commission. It was a Republican idea that Democrats spent a lot of time and money fighting. And now it’s Republicans’ turn…makes me think the Commission was indeed the way to go and the maps are probably as fair as they’re going to get!

  • Ann

    What should be reported by the media is how Gabino Aguirre, land the other many commissioners whose bios show them as community and political activists, a professor of immigration studies, and other such characters, were not screened out of the “independent” commission.

    This little tidbit is only one example although its remarkable:

    Dr. Gabino Aguirre
    from Santa Paula, California, United States
    Remarks to General Conference of OPANAL
    Santiago, Chile
    7-8 November 2005

    I’d like to express my deepest appreciation to the President-elect of this session, your Excellency Mr. Luis Winter, and the Secretary General of OPANAL, Ambassador Vargas Carreño, for all your efforts at convening and and organizing this conference. I would similarly like to express my appreciation to the government of Chile for the generous hospitality they’ve shown to all of us.

    Mr. President
    I bring you greetings from the Chicano-Americano community of the territory of North America. As a people, we Chicanos acknowledge and celebrate our indigenous roots and our Latino historical legacy. Our community continues to struggle for equality and justice within the United States. Socially and culturally, we feel a powerful connection with compañeros and compañeras to the south and, as Octavio Paz coined in one of his books, as la raza cósmica. Politically and economically, we are subjected to a form of internal colonialism that positions us at the margins of society along with other ethnic/racial minorities and the working poor. At the margins of society, our labor is exploited in agriculture, in factories and even as soldiers in interventionist and imperialist wars waged by a powerful elite.

    I wish to emphasize that I bring these warm greetings from the Chicano-Americano community and not as a representative of the government of the US. This community has been widely skeptical of our sitting president with many of the opinion he took this office through his party’s manipulation of the electoral process in the elections of 2000 and again in 2004. This president’s administration is composed of personnel representing powerful economic interests with connections to multinational corporations. These are the same corporations that continue to accumulate and consolidate wealth to benefit a global elite which now dominates national politics and the world economy. Using neo-liberal policies, they continue the exploitation of resources from the third world, turning them into consumer satellites and in this way limit these countries’ opportunities for development.

    Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2007/dec/0

    Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/jun/18/a-145humble-man-from-santa-paula-in-the-center/#ixzz1WEuK68eA
    – vcstar.com

  • Ann

    Well a short search turns up much more.

    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2011/07/29/series-exposed-redistricting-sham/

    Can this state do nothing ethically?

  • Casey Scott

    You can see why the California Republican Party continues to shrink. What a bunch of losers, SORE losers.

  • To Ann

    To Ann:
    There is no point in following your link to an obviously slanted article named: “series-exposed-redistricting-sham/”
    Talk about a “sham” !!!! If you had followed the process, then you would know that parties and politics were left out of the equation.
    Wow, I suppose you are not a happy person. Too Bad. :-)))

  • John Ellard

    This is just a bunch of gerrymandering the voting districts once again. 14 citizens were supposed to draw the districts simply. So voters could understand them and know which district they are in and who their representatives were. Everyone Democrats and Republicans and the rest of us should be outraged that politicians drew the lines once again. THAT IS NOT WHAT THE VOTERS WANT