PROP 77 PRO: Races would be more competitive

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his supporters argue that the Proposition 77 redistricting measure would make elections more competitive in the state and take the power of drawing district lines out of politicians’ hands. The measure would create a panel of three retired judges to draw boundary lines for congressional, state legislative and Board of Equalization districts. Any plan would then be submitted to voters for approval. Supporters say the current system – in which the Legislature draws the lines – is flawed because it allows politicians to choose their voters rather than the other way around. They point to districts that appear to be substantially gerrymandered, such as the 23rd Congressional District – nicknamed the “ribbon of shame” because it wanders up the coast of Central California for some 200 miles while going no more than five miles inland. “When it comes to the fundamental structure of how our democracy works, putting that in the hands of the people is the best place to put it,” said Steve Poizner, chairman of the governor’s “Yes on 77” committee. Under the measure, the state Judicial Council would nominate 24 retired judges, an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, who are willing to serve as special masters of the redistricting process. The four state legislative leaders would nominate three each from the opposite party and be allowed to veto one of the other picks. Then the names of three would be chosen at random, as long as there was at least one Democrat and one Republican. The masters would draft a plan and hold at least three public hearings before finalizing it. It would then be used at the next election, where it would be submitted to voters for approval even as candidates are running under the maps. If voters reject the plan, the candidates still would be elected to those districts, but the maps would have to be redrawn for the next election. The measure was authored by political activist Ted Costa, who also first launched the recall campaign against former Gov. Gray Davis. Chellie Pingree, president of political reform watchdog Common Cause, said she doesn’t argue with critics who point out flaws in the system, but said it is more important to take redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature than to quibble over details. “The most important thing here is our desire to move redistricting outside of the Legislature, to take politicians out of the process of drawing boundary lines,” she said. Harrison Sheppard, (916) 446-6723 [email protected]last_img

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