Beware of Proposition 27 – the most cynical, anti-voter initiative on
this November’s ballot. This power grab by the State’s politicians
would be a quantum leap backwards at a time when Californians are
hungry for true political reform. Don’t be fooled.
Gerrymandered legislative districts are one of the roots of political
dysfunctions in California, Washington, D.C. and in other states across
our nation. Following each decade’s census, states are charged with
redrawing their legislative boundaries to account for changing
demographics and population shifts. Problems arise when elected
officials are the ones in charge of drawing the new district
boundaries. They relish this opportunity to choose their voters rather
than the other way around.
In 2001 when the districts were redrawn by the California Legislature,
the result was oddly-shaped districts that protected incumbents and
killed any possibility for electoral competition or pragmatic
bipartisanship. Flash forward 10 years and we can see how that played
out in Sacramento.
Fortunately, Californians approved Proposition 11 in 2008 which established a Citizens Redistricting Commission
for the State’s Assembly and Senate districts. The commission –
currently being formed for next year’s redistricting effort – is a
transparent, public entity that will redraw boundaries based on
fairness and compliance with the Voting Rights Act. That’s why nearly
every newspaper editorial board, good government group and a majority
of voters supported Proposition 11.
The next logical step is to expand redistricting reform to also include
Congressional boundaries. Proposition 20 would do just that by
directing the new citizens commission to handle the House of
Representatives at the same time they redraw the state Legislature’s
boundaries. This saves money and it makes the entire process very clean
and very transparent.
But California’s politicians have decided that they will not cede the
power to redistrict to a transparent citizens commission without a
fight. In a last ditch effort, they raised the money for and qualified
Proposition 27. The goal of Proposition 27 is to do away with the
entire citizens commission – nullifying both Proposition 11 and
Proposition 20. It would be a return to the status quo that has
contributed to a decade of political dysfunction in Sacramento and
At this moment in history we have the chance to drive a nail in the
coffin of political gerrymandering that allows elected officials to
choose their voters by drawing their own district boundaries. Finish
the job by voting yes on Proposition 20 and no on Proposition
27. This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to give California voters a
real voice in the election of those who represent us in Sacramento and
in Washington, D.C.