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Why is Redistricting Important?

Why is Redistricting Important?

What is Redistricting?

Every ten years, we count every person in the United States through a process called the “Census.” This count gives us a snapshot of how many people there are and where they live.

Once we know how many people live in California, we can divide the population evenly into districts for the State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization. This is called “redistricting.”

Historically, the State Legislature has drawn these district maps. In 2011, a citizens commission will be in charge.

Why Should I Care?

By Redistricting CA on December 15, 2009

It is important that elected representatives listen to the public’s interests to ensure that our votes matter.  A critical step is to draw district lines that keep communities intact.  The way district lines are drawn affects how politicians represent constituents’ interests.  When communities are kept whole, we have a greater ability to hold politicians accountable.

Get Involved

The Commission needs to hear from you in order to know where your community is. You are the best source of information about your local area and where communities of interest exist. Information about you and your neighbors and why you should be in the same districts will help the Commission draw fair and representative districts. Without input from the public, the Commission will have to come up with other ways to figure out where communities of interest exist. There are several ways you can help the Commission:

Organize Communities

The first step is to identify a community, including what common bonds hold it together and where it is located geographically. You can help establish a community of interest that the Commission should consider when drawing district lines.

  • Talk to members of your community or neighborhood about interests you can share. These interests can include similar cultural, economic, or social background; they can also include a common goal, challenge or source of information. For example, a community may organize around fixing a problem or around supporting a school or because many members access the same community or senior center.
  • Talk to members of your community or neighborhood to decide on the boundaries of your community. The boundaries will help show on a map where the community is located, so the Commission can avoid drawing district lines through it. Boundaries that can be shown on a map can include legal boundaries, like city lines, or physical boundaries like streets, rivers, or train tracks.
  • Provide a description of what common interests hold the community together and where it is located, including the boundaries that form the line between the community and areas that are not included.
  • Assist other communities in defining and developing a description of their shared interests and boundaries.

Map your Community

The Commission will need to know where your community of interest is located in order to avoid splitting it between districts. One of the easiest ways for the Commission to know where your community is located is for you to make a map showing it. There are several ways to do this:

  • Use free resources, such as Google Earth, to draw maps. The maps do not need to be fancy. They just need to show what boundaries, such as streets, train tracks, or other barriers, trace the outside of your community of interest.
  • Visit a Redistricting Assistance Site near you to use computers and software to map your community. At the Redistricting Assistance Site, you can get help with how to make a map to show where your community is located.
  • Connect with organizations that are working statewide to make sure they know about your community or to find out how you can get involved with their work.

Interact with Redistricting Commission

The Commission will be looking at a lot of information when deciding where to draw lines. The best way you can try to keep your community of interest together is to give information to the Commission and keep track of the decisions they make. You can be involved with the Commission in several ways.

  • Attend or watch Commission meetings. The Commission will hold meetings in different areas of the state. You can attend a Commission meeting in person. You can also watch Commission meetings live on the internet. The Commission’s website shows the schedule and location of upcoming meetings.
  • Testify at Commission meetings. You can speak at Commission meetings and hearings to present information about your community of interest. Attend a meeting in person and let the Commission know about your community and why it is important to keep it in the same district.
  • Submit written testimony to Commission. You can also give the Commission information in writing. This can include a description of your community or neighborhood and what common interests hold it together. You should also provide copies of any maps you make showing where your community is located.