Quiz: What Disqualifies You from the Redistricting Commission?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

The authors of Prop 11, which creates a new commission to draw lines for state legislative and board of equalization districts, wanted to keep politics out of the process. How far did they go?

Below is a list. Some of the items on the list, if they were true statements about you, would disqualify you from serving on the new redistricting commission. Other statements on the list, if true, would not disqualify you.

You can apply on-line to be a member of the commission beginning December 15.

First is a statement. Then an explanation of whether it’s disqualifying:

            "You were an independent voter who changed her registration
in 2007 so you could vote for your friend Mitt Romney in the Republican
presidential primary."

DISQUALIFYING: According
to Prop 11, changing your party affiliation is a no-no. "Each commission member
shall be a voter who has been continuously registered in California with the
same political party or unaffiliated with a political party and who has not
changed political party affiliation for five or more years immediately
preceding the date of his or her appointment."

            "You’ve
been registered to vote in California for 15 years but your military unit was
posted to Afghanistan in the fall of 2004 and the fall of 2008, and you didn’t
vote in those statewide general elections."

DISQUALIFYING, because
you voted in only one of the last three statewide general elections. "Each
commission member shall have voted in two of the last three statewide general
elections immediately preceding his or her application."

            "You
smoke weed at least three times a day, without a valid doctor’s permission, but
no one’s noticed."

NOT DISQUALIFYING.

            "You’ve
never worked in politics or government, but you took advantage of an
opportunity and put your name on the recall ballot in 2003, along with 134
other people, so you could promote your new brand of beer."

DISQUALIFYING. You may
not have been a candidate for state office within 10 years of joining the
commission.

            "You
are between the ages of 18 and 22."

DISQUALIFYING. The
requirement that you’ve been registered to vote for five years effectively
disqualifies anyone who isn’t at least 23.

            "Your
husband’s sister used to work two days a week as a secretary answering phones
in a Republican party office in Fresno."

DISQUALIFYING, because
Prop 11 says you can’t be on the commission if any member of your immediate
family – which includes "parents, children, siblings and in-laws" – has been a
paid employee of a political party.

            "You’re
a 28-year-old Republican hedge fund analyst with a color-coordinated closet.
But, when you were a shaggy-haired, 19-year-old college dropout, you had a
summer job your girlfriend’s father got you working in the office of a
Democratic Congressman. (You spent your wages on beer and a fake ID.)"

DISQUALIFYING, because
you cannot, in the last 10 years, have served as paid congressional staff.

            "You’re
a liberal, gay West Hollywood salon owner who, during a time when business was
slow, signed a contract to handle make-up and hair for Republican candidates
when they came to LA to tape TV appearances."

DISQUALIFYING. To be
on the commission, you may not have served as a paid consultant to a party or
any candidate for elected office.

            "You
were a top state senator who was termed out of office in 1996 but you haven’t
had anything at all to do with politics or government since."

NOT DISQUALIFYING. As
long as you and all your "immediate family" have had nothing to do with
government or politics for more than 10 years, you’re free and clear.

            "You’re
a registered Republican in Orange County who has never had anything to do with
politics or government, but your youngest son, whom you want to take out of the
will, wrote a check for $2,000 to Nancy Pelosi’s campaign last year.

DISQUALIFYING. To be
on the commission, no member of your immediate family, including your children,
may have contributed to $2,000 or more "to any congressional, state, or local
candidate for elective public office" in the past 10 years.

            "Your
oldest sister, who has 12 cats and with whom you share ownership in an old
family lake cabin, retired from her accounting job and spends her days lobbying
her local city council on behalf of an animal shelter."

DISQUALIFYING. No
member of your family may have "been a registered federal, state, or local
lobbyist" within the past 10 years.

            "You’re
a highly partisan Democratic computer programmer who has never been involved in
politics but happens to write 
advanced mapping software that could be used for drawing districts."

            NOT
DISQUALIFYING but one hopes that this
fellow would be weeded out by the Applicant Review Panel, which must select the
60 most qualified people from among those who apply, or by legislative leaders,
who can knock out a couple of candidates from the pool.

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