Among the many measures that will appear on this November’s ballot, one of the most important is the California Voters FIRST Act. On Election Day, Californians will have the opportunity to send a message to their elected officials and to make sure their votes count in passing this important redistricting reform measure.

Year after year, partisan gridlock prevents our state lawmakers from effectively addressing the issues Californian’s care about most, including the state budget, health care, education, the economy, the impending water crisis, and the environment. Contributing to this ongoing problem is the fact that Legislators are allowed to draw their own district lines to guarantee their reelection. As a result, our lawmakers are simply not accountable to voters. In fact, even as legislative approval ratings are at historic lows, nearly 99% of incumbent legislators are reelected every year.

The California Voters FIRST Act will end the conflict of interest that exists in our current redistricting system and help put voters back in control and make lawmakers accountable to their constituents. The initiative will change the way legislative districts are drawn by creating a 14-member independent redistricting commission, including five Republicans, five Democrats and four members not affiliated with either major party. And, unlike the current process, the California Voters FIRST Act will ensure that the redistricting process is open, transparent, and protects the Voting Rights Act.

We have seen attempts to pass redistricting reform in the past, but this time the approach is different. Proponents of this initiative are bipartisan and diverse – they are groups and individuals who do not traditionally agree on much, but they have come together to pass this measure because they believe it is so important. By coming together to make this change now, Californians will not have to risk another decade of inaction in Sacramento.

Joining me in support of California Voters FIRST is AARP, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, Governor Gray Davis, the California Chamber of Commerce, ACLU of Southern California, the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, NFIB/California – among many others.

It’s clear the status quo is not working for California. By supporting the California Voters FIRST Act, voters will help get the state on the right track by ending the redistricting conflict of interest and making lawmakers more accountable to the people who elect them. I hope Californians, whether they are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, will join us in supporting this important measure on November 4th.