What is the Commission?
California voters authorized the creation of the Commission when they passed the VOTERS FIRST Act (Act) in 2008. It authorized the Commission to draw the new district lines. In 2010, the Congressional Voters FIRST Act added the responsibility of drawing Congressional districts to the Commission.
Every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, California must redraw the boundaries of its Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts, so that the districts correctly reflect the state’s population.
The 14-member Commission is made up of five Republicans, five Democrats, and 4 not affiliated with either of those two parties. The Commission must draw the district lines in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Californians.
The initial and supplemental applications were forwarded to an Applicant Review Panel (panel) consisting of three independent auditors from the California State Auditor. After the panel reviewed all the applications, the panel selected 120 of the “most qualified applicants,” who were then personally interviewed. The 120 applicants were divided into three equal sub-pools according to party affiliation, which was then narrowed down to 60 applicants.
The panel presented those 60 applicants to the California State Legislature, where leadership had the option of removing up to 24 names from the list—eight from each sub-pool. The names of the applicants not removed from the sub-pools were then submitted to the California State Auditor.
The California State Auditor randomly drew from the names remaining in the three sub-pools: three Democrats, three Republicans, and two from neither of those parties. These eight applicants became the first eight members of the Commission.
The first eight members of the Commission then selected the final six members of the Commission by selecting two commissioners from each of the three sub-pools.
The Commission is regulated by laws at the federal and state levels.
What will the full Commission do?
The Commission must hold public hearings and accept public comment. After hearing from the public and drawing the maps for the House of Representatives districts, 40 Senate districts, 80 Assembly districts, and 4 Board of Equalization districts, the Commission must vote on the new maps to be used for the next decade.
The Commission will have one year to determine and approve the district maps. During this time period, the commissioners will be performing complex tasks that include, but are not limited to, the following:
Draw District Lines: The primary function of the Commission is to draw the Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization district lines. These four maps will be the product of the redistricting process after public debate and compromise through different iterations of proposed district maps.
Hold Public Meetings: Any meeting involving at least nine commissioners must be in a public meeting environment. As the commissioners perform their important work drawing district lines, they will be holding public meetings throughout the State. In these public meetings, the commissioners will solicit and receive public input as they determine which communities share common interests and should share common representation. Each meeting will require multiple members of the Commission to attend and will likely be conducted in the evenings and on weekends to allow for greater public participation in this important process.
Research and Analyze: The commissioners will also be reviewing and discussing pertinent data used to set geographic boundaries for districts. This information includes the 2020 census data from which the districts will be drawn, computer modeling of the census data to create potential districts, the public input discussed above, and the discussion and compromise that accompanies such an important process, that will impact California for 10 years.
Hire Support Staff: The commissioners will be very busy performing their duties, so they will hire administrative and support staff as needed. Some of the Commission's tasks will include: drafting and promulgating regulations; appointing a staff director; scheduling meetings and hearings, and notifying interested parties; maintaining records of the Commission's deliberations; overseeing payroll, travel reimbursements, equipment purchases, and maintenance; and communicating with individuals who request information regarding the Commission's progress.
- Prepare Legal Defense: State law grants the Commission sole legal standing to defend any action regarding a certified map. After the maps are approved, the Commission may need to defend the maps if there are any lawsuits. The final maps will be subject to public scrutiny and possible challenge which may result in swift proceedings before the California Supreme Court. In that event, the Commission would likely hire an attorney to defend the maps on its behalf.
COVID-19 has delayed many things, including our ability to access census data to help us draw district maps. The California Supreme Court ruled on July 17, 2020 (Legislature of CA v Alex Padilla S262530) that the Commission should have until December 15, 2021 to submit its maps to the California Secretary of State due to the delay in release of census results. If census results are received after July 31, 2021, the Commission’s deadline would be adjusted accordingly.
On February 12, 2021, the Census Bureau announced it would deliver redistricting data to all states by September 30, 2021. A two-month delay after July 31 in the state receiving the Census data means that the Commission’s final maps would be due two months after December 15.
U.S. District Court has dismissed the Ohio lawsuit that challenged the delayed release of redistricting data and asked that the Census Bureau comply with the April 1 statutory deadline.
During the Ohio lawsuit, the Census Bureau made the determination that it will provide a legacy format summary of the P.L. 94-171 datasets, with all geographic units and all substantive data tabulations, by mid to late August.
We are working with the Legislature and others to minimize the impact of the delay on
the 2022 elections.
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