Op-Ed: Fair and independent redistricting? Los Angeles County does it already! Updated: Sunday, November 15, 2000 By David H. Schoenbrod
California’s redistricting process has been politicized to a great degree in recent years.
When voters passed Measure R in 1986, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling that gave the counties the authority to create their own redistricting plans. The counties, however, chose not to follow the court’s ruling. In 1991, then-Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the voters’ will and the legislature passed a law to create a statewide commission to draw new congressional and legislative districts.
While the governor claimed that the state was not responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts, the measure became known as Proposition 98, which gave the legislature complete control of redistricting.
Under Proposition 98, the Legislature created the redistricting commission, but the five-member bipartisan panel was made up of politicians who were expected to support their party in power. The panel’s primary function was to draw districts for the state Legislature, while it also provided recommendations to the governor.
The Legislature’s decision to pass a new redistricting plan had a huge impact on politics in the state and was largely responsible for the number of districts with significantly different populations.
In the 1992 presidential election, a Democratic-controlled Legislature drew new map lines for congressional and legislative redistricting, thereby favoring the Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton.
California’s political parties spent more than $100 million to create and preserve the existing districts. But during the 1998 redistricting process, both parties created new districts, which favored Republicans.
During the 2000 election cycle, both major political parties drew new districts, although they were slightly different. While the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a new redistricting plan, the Democratic-controlled panel was more conservative than it had been in 1992.
As a result of the 1998 and 2000 redistricting processes, California politicians have created new districts with dramatically different populations and political districts with dramatically different populations.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board recently examined the redistricting process.
The Editorial Board notes that the Legislature and governor can create a new redistricting plan, which is binding upon the voters, so long as the voters approve the change through referendum, a popular