Common Cause Calls for Improved Latino Representation in 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — July 13, 2020. California Common Cause and civil rights partners called on the first eight members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) to abide by their constitutional duty to select the remaining six members who will reflect the diversity of the state. The first eight commissioners were randomly drawn from a pool of finalists and not a single one is Latino.

In a letter sent to the new commissioners, California Common Cause, Advancement Project California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, the Black Census and Redistricting Hub, California League of Conservation Voters, California Native Vote Project, CHIRLA, Inland Empire United, and the League of Women Voters of California wrote, “In a state where Latinos comprise nearly 40 percent of the total population and nearly one third of its citizen voting age population, a lack of Latino representation on the Commission would be unacceptable. Fortunately, you have the power, and the legal obligation, to rectify the dramatic underrepresentation of Latinos when you make your determinations regarding the final six commissioners.”

More than 20,000 Californians applied to serve on the CRC, a 14-member independent body charged with drawing district lines that will last for the next decade for congressional delegation, state assembly and state senate. Latino underrepresentation was a concern from the beginning, with Latinos composing only 13% of the initial applicant pool. The Applicant Review Panel brought that percentage up to 23% as it narrowed the pool of candidates. The legislative strikes and one withdrawal created a pool of 35 finalists that was 20% Latino.

On July 2, 2020 the first eight commissioners were selected by random drawing and included no Latino commissioners. While the first eight commissioners include strong representation from the African American (3), Asian American (2), LGBTQ (2) communities, and strong gender and geographic diversity, the total lack of Latino representation is unacceptable. 

“The next Citizens Redistricting Commission has to engage millions of Californians in the drawing of our political districts, so we have true community-led redistricting. That will only happen if all of California’s communities see themselves in the Commission,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, Executive Director of California Common Cause. “The lack of Latino representation to this point is a tragedy. Thankfully the system is designed so that the first eight commissioners have the constitutional obligation to balance the diversity of the Commission.” 

California leads the nation in independent, citizen-run redistricting. In 2008 the CRC was created by voters via Proposition 11. California Common Cause was a primary supporter. Since then, several states around the nation have passed independent redistricting commissions emulating the California model. Before the next Commission is seated in 2031, democracy reform and civil rights groups should work together to consider ways to make the application process more accessible and the applicant pool more representative.

Find background and data on the CRC applicant pool below.

Read the full letter online.

California Common Cause is a nonpartisan advocacy organization working to build a California democracy that includes everyone. 

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The initial CRC applicant pool, which was 13% Latino, was evaluated by a three-auditor panel known as the Applicant Review Panel (ARP), with one Democratic member, one Republican member, and one No Party Preference member appointed by the State Auditor’s Office. As the ARP narrowed the pool of applicants under consideration, it brought Latino representation in the pool up. Of the 60 finalists selected by the ARP, including 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans, and 20 NPP/Other as required by law, 23% of applicants were Latino.

Each member of legislative leadership — the President pro Tempore of the Senate, the Minority Floor Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Minority Floor Leader of the Assembly — was then permitted to strike up to two applicants from each subpool of 20. The legislative strikes brought Latino representation back down to 19%. 

Latino Representation from Each Phase of the Application Process

  • Original Applicant Pool: 13%
  • 120 selected for interviews (40 Dems, 40 GOP, 40 NPP/Other)
    • 17% Latino
    • Latinos: 10 Dems, 5 GOP, and 6 NPP/Other
  • 60 semi-finalists sent to Legislature for strikes (20 Dems, 20 GOP, 20 NPP/Other)
    • 23% Latino
    • Latinos: 8 Dem, 3 GOP, 3 NPP/Other
  • Pool of 36 finalists after Legislative strikes (12 Dems, 12 GOP, 12 NPP/Other)
    • 19% Latino
    • Latinos: 4 Dem, 2 GOP, 1 NPP/Other

At the final stage, one Asian American Democrat withdrew. As a result, the final pool that was eligible for the random draw included 35 candidates, 20% of whom were Latino.

During the lottery, three Democrats, three Republicans, and two NPP/Others were chosen. Given that number of draws from each pool, and the Latino representation in each pool, the odds of selecting at least one Latino was 90.4%. Calculation available upon request.