California still gerrymanders — but not the old ugly way

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Gerrymandering was presupposed to be cured by redistricting reform. No probability. It’s nonetheless alive and effectively in California.


That was evident within the just-completed once-a-decade redrawing of California congressional and legislative districts.

However the newest gerrymandering wasn’t about crafting weirdly formed districts to learn the political occasion in energy. Neither was its goal essentially to guard incumbents from election defeat or to carve them pleasant districts to run for one more workplace.

The aim of this 12 months’s gerrymandering was to assist Latino, Asian American and Black candidates win seats. And it resulted in some very oddly formed districts.

Truly, that was known as for underneath federal regulation — the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“Minority communities have to be taken under consideration so that they have voting energy and an equal alternative to elect a consultant of their alternative,” I used to be advised by Fredy Ceja, spokesman for the unbiased Residents Redistricting Fee.

The 14-member fee — 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 4 independents, nonpoliticians chosen in a course of headed by the state auditor — drew the brand new maps. The panel had a authorized obligation to attempt to protect, if not improve, districts that Latino, Asian American and Black candidates might win.

And it did, significantly for Latino candidates. It drew 16 U.S. Home districts — out of 52 — the place a majority of voting-age residents are Latino. That’s up from 9 at the moment, in keeping with the California Goal E book, which tracks congressional and legislative races and carefully adopted the redistricting course of, accumulating knowledge and analyzing every step.

The draw back is that some cities and cities received rooked. They had been carved into two or extra districts, robbing them of their very own, devoted consultant in Congress. They’ll have Home members representing a number of pursuits.

San Jose, for instance, was cut up into 4 districts in an effort to maximize the variety of Latino voters in some seats. Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s San Jose district was expanded 60 miles south into Salinas to select up Latino voters. It’ll go from 31% Latino to 51%.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo vigorously fought the fracturing of congressional illustration, contending it could “sacrifice the pursuits of 1 million San Joseans.”

That occurred in a number of areas of the state. Fresno was fractured in thirds. Lengthy Seaside was cut up in two. San Bernardino and Riverside had been divided. All to carry Latino voters into sure districts.

“Arms of districts had been going out in all instructions in an effort to separate Latinos and Whites,” says Tony Quinn, a Goal E book editor and redistricting professional who as soon as was the Republican guide on legislative remapping. “Neighborhood after neighborhood was torn to items in an effort to obtain ethnic districts.”

And, “whenever you see traces getting into every kind of loopy instructions, that’s gerrymandering.” Quinn says. “This wasn’t a political gerrymander. It was an ethnic and racial gerrymander.”

He doesn’t suppose it was required underneath the Voting Rights Act as a result of California’s citizens could be very numerous and has been electing a lot of Latino politicians and different candidates of shade.

Paul Mitchell, a political knowledge whiz who has suggested Democrats on redistricting throughout the nation, agrees that many “cities received brief shrift” in California. However he factors out their precedence is outranked by the Voting Rights Act.

“Tony [Quinn] has some extent,” Mitchell says. “Districts had been created on the expense of cities. I’m not going to dispute that. However legal guidelines take choice. Voting rights are a standards second solely to creating districts of equal inhabitants. Minority communities received up and down the board.”

He provides that not less than “it was not partisan politics — politicians screwing politicians. The method was clear.”

And that was the aim of redistricting reform adopted by voters in 2008. The previous gerrymandering had a really dangerous stench and continues to be practiced in lots of states.

The previous gerrymandering was an unpleasant system with politicians selecting their voters, as an alternative of vice versa. Voters lastly received sick of it.

“Irrespective of how redistricting is finished, there’s going to be a struggle,” says Goal E book writer Darry Sragow, a former Democratic political guide.

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