Gerrymandering Alive and Well in California

Have any of you ever heard of Elbridge Gerry? On July 4, 1776, he was one of the brave men who placed their signature on the Declaration of Independence. Gerry went on serve as governor of Massachusetts and Vice-President of the United States under President James Madison. Gerry is most remembered for his redistricting the state of Massachusetts to give his political party (Democratic-Republican) an unfair advantage in elections. The incident created such a controversy at the time that the process of illicit redistricting was namd after him and has since been known as gerrymandering.

In California, election districts are re-examined by the state legislature and adjusted as necessary every ten years. In 2008, a ballot initiative that was endorsed by state Republicans took the redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and created the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission. In 2010, the Commission was also given authority to handle congressional districts.

The current Commission recently submitted its latest redistricting recommendations. According to those looking over the proposal, the new boundaries seem to give the Democrats the advantage and strong possibility of allowing them to capture enough Senate and Assembly seats to give them the two-thirds necessary to raise taxes in the state.

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Republicans are not happy at the preliminary proposal as it appears to be Democratically favored. They also point out the there were only 19 Republicans on the 53 member Commission. It appears that at least 4 Republican congressman will now be facing re-election in newly drawn predominately Democratic districts.

In another case, a newly elected Democrat’s former district was spilt into three separate districts and now she has to determine which of the three to run in. However the original district was predominantly Democratic so the split now gives them two additional seats that they should be able to garner in the next election.

I haven’t heard the term gerrymandering used in quite a few years, but it sounds like the practice is still alive and well, at least in California.

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