Working to Ensure Independent Redistricting Commissions: Something to Feel Good About

     During such tumultuous and tension-filled times, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the daily news reports. There are so many things to worry about: The concerns about protecting our right to vote, voting safely amid a pandemic, and stopping foreign governments from interfering in our elections. The unbearable pain of stories that underscore the need for immigration reform, racial justice, and support for Black Lives Matter. The never-ending reports of fires, hurricanes, tornados etc., and the terrifying Coronavirus that has taken so many lives and is still far from over. It is only natural to feel wholly exhausted and deeply concerned with the realities of 2020. 

     However during such moments of crisis people and organizations are also showing incredible resilience and ingenuity — there is a lot to feel good about. Through the power of community, we have created mutual aid funds, community networks, food banks, and so much more to support our local communities and neighbors. 

     CA Common Cause is doing our best to protect our democracy, nationally and right here at home. Our staff and members have been working tirelessly to address the attacks on our constitution and democratic and electoral systems. 

     We know that gerrymandering is a serious problem in our country and Independent Redistricting Commissions are the answer. Here in California we have established the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent, 14-member body that will draw the Congressional, State Senate, and State Assembly districts for our state. It has been lauded as a national model for the best practice for redistricting, and it was created because of the leadership of CA Common Cause and the backing of supporters like you.

     Now we are moving ahead to bring Independent Redistricting Commissions and reforms to our local communities. We are working on local redistricting campaigns in San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Menlo Park. Seeking to enact some positive change during a year when it is much needed, these redistricting campaigns have found support among community organizations and members. We are honored to be working in coalition again with the League of Women Voters, who we have a long-standing successful relationship with, through passing many crucial democratic reforms.  CA Common Cause has been helping to organize residents through our Fair Redistricting Campaigns in Menlo Park and Sunnyvale to establish Independent Redistricting Commissions and in San Jose to improve the independence and transparency of its Advisory Redistricting Commission. Join us and tell all the folks you know! 

     We invite you to sign up for our Redistricting Educational Forums, which have been led by our Northern California Organizer, Helen Grieco, and myself. We call it Redistricting 101 — learn everything you need to know in 45 minutes. One question attendees have asked so far is, “How does redistricting impact me?” The answer is that if you care about policing, health, environmental justice, housing or any other issue decided by local government — redistricting definitely impacts you. Sign up for a forum and we’ll give you the full answer.  For now, just know this: Politicians should not choose their voters, voters should choose their politicians

     Working together, we can stop incumbents from using redistricting to protect their incumbency and/or their party’s interests, from gerrymandering districts and disenfranchising voters, and from slicing up communities and silencing their voices.

      In addition to creating Independent Redistricting Commissions, CA Common Cause has also fought for the passage of key state legislation that creates more fair and equitable redistricting in California, including Assembly Bill 849 and Assembly Bill 1276. These bills created criteria and rules for redistricting, ensuring greater public participation and transparency and protecting communities. We can feel good about the fact that during times of unparalleled assaults on our democracy, we can count on people and organizations to work to protect our democracy. For 50 years Common Cause has sought to do just that! 

      It is essential that we protect the vision of great leaders, like Abraham Lincoln who called for us to ensure that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this Earth.