Landslide in California against legislators drawing their own districts!
I was almost randomly surfing the California Secretary of State Election Returns when I ran across something that surprised – and heartened me! It appears that Californians rejected the idea of their state legislators drawing their own district lines – by a margin that I would call a landslide!
In November 2008, California voters barely passed Proposition 11 (50.9% for) which established a Citizens Redistricting Commission taking redistricting for STATE offices out of the hands of the legislature and put responsibility into the hands of a 14 member Citizen’s commission. Currently, a convoluted selection process has reduced the applicant pool to 20 Republicans, 20 Democrats and 20 applicants not affiliated with either of the 2 major parties. Selection of the final 14 members should be complete by the end of the year.
On the November 2, 2010 General Election ballot were 2 competing propositions that addressed redistricting:
Proposition 20 EXTENDED the authority of the commission to include drawing the lines for Congressional districts.
Proposition 27 (had it passed) would have eliminated the commission and returned redistricting to the hands of the state legislature.
As there were competing and diametrically opposed propositions, had BOTH won a majority of California Voters, the one with the larger majority would have prevailed.
This commission has yet to act. (That’s not a criticism!) They HAVE no work to do before the Census Bureau releases the results of the 2010 census.
No on both would have been, essentially, a vote for the Status Quo: State office boundaries to be drawn by the commission, and congressional boundaries to be drawn by the state legislature.
Yes on 20, No on 27 was a vote to remove all redistricting responsibility from the legislature.
No on 20, Yes on 27 was a vote to give all redistricting back to the legislature.
Yes on both isn’t a logical possibility for someone who understands the above, since that person would be simultaneously voting both ways. However, given the ignorance prevalent in our politics, I’m sure some people cast exactly this vote. As individual votes are secret, we can’t refer these people for mental examination.
Statewide, 61.2% voted FOR Proposition 20, and 59.5% voted AGAINST Proposition 27. So we now have taken away all redistricting from our legislators and placed the responsibility in the hands of an as yet unselected (much less untried!) Citizens commission.
I’ve transcribed the county by county results from the state website and summarized them for you. To see them in a downloadable Excel file (2007 and later), click HERE, to view them online through Google Docs, click HERE.
I encourage you to take a look now. Scroll down through the counties, and see if you see the same pattern that jumped out at me:
<<<lots of blank space to encourage you to look at the data FIRST!!>>>
OK, now that I’ve given you your chance to draw your own conclusions, here’s the data point that leapt out at me:
San Francisco was the ONLY county that voted No on 20 and Yes on 27!!! A couple of others were close (Alameda close to No/Yes and Humboldt No/No), but – by and large – the state voted consistently – across political persuasions – to not allow the legislature to gerrymander safe districts.
Will this work? There’s no way to know because the commission is brand new, and their forthcoming drawing of district lines will be the first time ever (that I’m aware of) that non-politicians are drawing the districts. I wish them well in their endeavors. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Crazy (or ignorant) People
I’m not going to go into the derivation here (as it’s still a bit fuzzy in my mind!), but I think that any result (Statewide or County by County) where fewer people voted AGAINST 27 than voted FOR 20 implies that SOME people voted for both! Actually, I think this relies on the assumption that very few people voted NO on both. So my earlier statement that there must be people who voted “Yes” on both seems to be supported by some evidence!
Personally, I am heartened that the people of our state share what I interpret as a healthy distrust in ANY politician drawing district boundaries. I did apply for a position on the commission, but I didn’t make it past the first round.
However, I’m frankly puzzled by the San Francisco result. Do they trust their legislators that much? Or did they vote that way in the expectation that the Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature would redraw the boundaries to cement a Democratic majority for the next 10 years (as the Republicans did in in Texas)? And I’d really like to hear YOUR opinions! So…
Please PLEASE PLEASE chime in by making a comment! Do you share my opinion on why the statewide totals were so lopsided? How do you interpret the case of San Francisco? Want to go through and prove (or disprove) and document my “Crazy People” thesis? Please do!
Inquiring minds want to know!