Battle begins over state's redistricting plan

August 16, 2011 5:41:37 PM PDT
Their work is done, but an independent panel that redrew legislative boundaries in California is under attack. Some Republican opponents are planning to file papers for a ballot initiative trying to throw out the new districts.

No more squiggly lines drawn by politicians to ensure a safe seat for a particular party which critics say contributes to Sacramento gridlock. An independent citizen panel has now done the job of redrawing all legislative and congressional districts in California, and already a referendum seeks to invalidate the State Senate lines.

"When it came to the Senate maps, by failing to abide by the guidelines, they created these unwieldy, and frankly, unconstitutional districts," said California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro.

California Common Cause thinks the referendum reflects how fearful the political establishment is of losing power. The way the State Senate districts are drawn now gives Democrats a shot of holding a two-thirds majority, enough to raise taxes.

"I think there are a lot of people who are so used to a zero sum game where they've always been able to win in this game of redistricting," said Kathay Feng of California Common Cause. "They are sore losers."

Republican Tony Quinn helped draw political district lines in the 70s and 80s. After looking at the new maps, he believes the referendum makes a good argument.

"There was clearly some partisan game playing in the drawing of the district lines in the Central Coast, where you had two marginal Republican districts and suddenly you have two safe Democratic ones," said former redistricting member Tony Quinn.

"What these maps do is they certainly have shaken up the political establishment," said Feng.

If referendum supporters gather more 505,000 signatures, voters will have a chance to throw out the new Senate district lines and have the California Supreme Court redraw them.

The new maps could also be subjected to a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act. The number of Latino districts were reduced in the Senate maps for the San Jose, San Fernando Valley and San Diego areas.

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