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.

Prior to 2010, legislators in California drew the lines. In 2008, California voters authorized the creation of the independent Commission when they passed the VOTERS FIRST Act (Act). It authorized the Commission to draw the new district lines for the State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization. In 2010, the Voters FIRST Act for Congress added the responsibility of drawing the Congressional districts to the Commission.

Taking the redistricting power away from elected officials is meant to ensure a fair and transparent process that eliminates political influence from the process. Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: "cracking" (i.e.: diluting the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts) and "packing" (concentrating the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts).