California earned highest grade nationally for transparent and inclusive process
Sacramento, CA — Today, Common Cause, the leading anti-gerrymandering group, published a report grading the redistricting process in all 50 states from the view of the community. The comprehensive report evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews.
California earned the top grade in the nation: an A-. The report found California’s independent redistricting commission produced an accessible, transparent, and participatory process for the state’s diverse communities. In particular, the report highlights the significant public engagement with more than 30,000 written comments and 4,000 verbal comments submitted.
“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause national redistricting director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.”
Common Cause graded each state for its state level redistricting. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data. Each interview and survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria.
“Redistricting is only successful when the people have influence over our own voting districts,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, California Common Cause executive director. “Redistricting determines the kind of leaders we elect, and how well they represent our views in Sacramento and Washington. California earned the highest grade nationally because we have boldly decided to put power in the hands of the people, not elected officials. We must continue this work to bring our local redistricting processes into alignment with our gold-star, state-level redistricting standards – that’s why California Common Cause is sponsoring critical redistricting reform legislation in this year’s legislative session.”
Common Cause found the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and hold the power of the pen to draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than electability or party control.
The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
The report was published in collaboration with the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), which includes Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mia Familia Vota, NAACP, NCAI, State Voices, APIAVote, and the Center for Popular Democracy.