Every ten years, the voting lines in California are redrawn to evenly divide the voting districts based on the latest census data. How the lines are drawn can determine who will run for office and who will win, and whether communities are kept together or split unfairly.
In the past, the State Legislature has drawn the district maps for the State Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization. Because of Proposition 11, a 14-person citizens commission will be in charge of redistricting in 2011. The application process for the commission began December 15, 2009, and will be open until February 12, 2010.
As of January 5, 2010, only 192 of the 4,724 applicants (4.1 percent) were Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI). People of color as a group make up less than 18 percent of the applicants. AAPIs represent nearly 15 percent of the state’s total population, and communities of color make up over half of the state’s total population.
Unless additional people of color including AAPIs apply, there is significant risk that the commission will not reflect California’s diversity.
Up-to-date statistics can be found at https://application.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/statistics.
The commission will hold public hearings throughout California, evaluate relevant materials, and eventually draw the new district maps. The commission may hire staff and consultants in order to support its work.
The maps the commission draws will determine whether Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are kept together or split by district boundaries. “It is critical that the commission reflects the diversity of California, including Asian Pacific Islander representation,” said Mina Titi Liu, Executive Director, Asian Law Caucus.
Commissioners will serve until 2020; however, the vast majority of the commission’s work will occur from January to September 2011 since the district maps must be completed by September 15, 2011. From January 2011 until the adoption of the maps, the commissioners may spend 10-40 hours a week or more on their responsibilities. The commissioners are paid $300 per day plus expenses when doing commission business.
To apply for the commission, applicants must fill out an online form. The form can be found at http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov and is due by February 12, 2010.
The Asian Law Alliance (ALA), Asian Law Caucus (ALC), and East Bay Asian Voter Education Consortium (EBAVEC) will conduct application workshops in the Bay Area during January and the first part of February to provide interested individuals with information about the commission and assistance with the application process. ALA, ALC and EBAVEC held workshops in early January in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
After the application period is over, the 14 commissioners will be selected in a multi-step process that is supervised by the California State Auditor. A panel of three government auditors will review the applications and select 120 applicants for interviews. The panel will then choose a final list of 60 applicants from which eight commissioners are randomly chosen. These eight commissioners will then pick the remaining six commissioners.
The commission members will be appointed by December 31, 2010. The commission will be made of five registered Democrats, five registered Republicans, and four individuals who are either decline-to-state or registered with a third party.
To serve on the commission, an individual must be a registered voter in California for at least the last five years with the same party (or non-party) affiliation; have voted in at least two of the last three statewide general elections; and have relevant analytical skills, be impartial, and appreciate California’s diversity.
An applicant will be disqualified if, within the past ten years, he/she or a member of his/her immediate family has been in or a candidate for federal or state office; been appointed as a member of a political party central committee; served as a paid congressional, legislative, or Board of Equalization staff; been a registered lobbyist; or contributed $2,000 or more to any congressional, state, or local candidate in a year.
Additionally, individuals who are appointed to the commission face restrictions on future political activities. Until the end of 2020, they may not run for federal, state, county or city office. Until the end of 2015, they may not be appointed to federal, state or local office; serve as paid staff for the state legislature or any individual legislator; or register as a federal, state or local lobbyist within California.
For more information about the commission or the workshops, call the Asian Law Caucus at (415) 896-1701 ext. 121, Asian Law Alliance at (408) 287-9710, East Bay Asian Voter Education Consortium (925) 933-6778 or visit http://www.tinyurl.com/capafr2011.
Also, the California State Auditor has information translated in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese posted on its website at http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/toolkit.html.