African American Community Roundtable Hosts — How to Become a Member of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission

Andrea M. BaldriasContributor

On Friday, March 29th the African American Community Roundtable hosted a forum for local community leaders to educate the citizens about the process to become a member of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission. 

Every 10 years, California must redraw the district lines for the Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization to accurately reflect the population’s demographics as determined by the Census. 

The Citizens Redistricting Commission will be responsible for drawing all district lines. The Commission is comprised of 14 members (five Democrats, five Republicans and four members who either ‘Decline to State’ or belong to another party. 

California citizens who are eligible may submit an application to the State Auditor’s Office in the first 60-day application period from June 10, 2019 to August 9, 2019.

The Commission came into fruition when California voters passed the Voters FIRST Act in 2008. The Act authorized the Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw new district lines. Soon after, in 2010, the Voters FIRST Act for Congress gave the Commission the responsibility of drawing Congressional districts as well. 

As a result of the Voters FIRST Act, a State Auditor is required to initiate an application process for the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The minimum eligibility requirements for applicants are:

• Have been a registered voter since July 1, 2015

• Have been registered with the same political party (or declined-to-state) since July 1, 2015

• Voted in at least two of the last three statewide elections. 

An Applicant Review Panel comprised of three auditors will lead the selection process from the pool of applicants. After the applications have been reviewed, the panel will select 120 applicants who are “most qualified” and equally divide them into three sub-pools according to party affiliation. These selected applicants will be personally interviewed in Sacramento. After this, the panel will select 60 applicants and equally divide them into three sub-pools according to party affiliation.

These 60 names will be presented to four legislative leaders for review, and each leader is allowed to remove two applicants from each of the sub-pools. The final applicant pool is sent to the State Auditor, who will randomly draw three applicant names from the sub-pools — three Democrat, three Republican and two who are either Decline-to-State or have another party affiliation. These eight applicants will become the initial eight members of the Commission who will complete the selection process by selecting the final six Commission members.

At the meeting, attendees voiced concerns about the Commission not reflecting the community and questioned how the State Auditor, Elaine M. Howle, will address the disparities and evade widening the gap in the future. 

Beginning in June, Howle plans to have an “aggressive” outreach strategy to the Black community. They plan on doing so by reaching out to community or faith-based organizations, professional organizations, local political clubs, Black Chamber of Commerce and business organizations, civic rights organizations, and Black media whether it be through events and speakers, toolkits or email blasts. 

Beginning June 10th, the State Auditor’s office will begin press events. For more information or to sign-up for the State Auditor’s newsletter, visit http://shapecaliforniasfuture.auditor.ca.gov/.

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