Diverse Coalition of Immigrant and Good Government Groups Announces Support for Local and County Gerrymandering Reform

SACRAMENTO – In advance of state Senate and Assembly committee votes today, a broad coalition of immigrant and good government groups announced their support for two bills authored by California Common Cause that aim to end gerrymandering at the local and county level. 

AB 849, called the Fair Maps Act, requires city councils and other local governments to use standardized, fair redistricting criteria that prioritize communities when drawing district lines. Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Asian Law Caucus, the League of Women Voters of California and Mi Familia Vota are among the endorsers of the bill. The Fair Maps Act is scheduled for the Assembly local government committee at 1:30 p.m, April 24, State Capitol, Room 127. 

SB 139, the People’s Maps Act, requires counties with 250,000 or more residents to establish independent redistricting commissions to draw district lines using the fair criteria. MALDEF, League of Women Voters of California, League of Conservation Voters and Voices for Progress are among the endorsers of the bill. The People’s Maps Act is scheduled for the Senate governance and finance committee at 9 a.m., April 24, State Capitol, Room 112.  

What Supporters Say About AB 849 

“California is a leader in redistricting for state and national offices, said Helen Hutchison, president of the League of Women Voters of California. We need to bring the best practices from our state redistricting process to local redistricting, including criteria that prioritize keeping our neighborhoods whole, and requiring that maps be open to public comment before they can be adopted. The League of Women Voters of California is a strong supporter of AB 849.”  

“Cities, counties, and school boards should lead transparent redistricting processes that involve robust engagement of all communities, including those that are new to local politics,” said Jonathan Stein, voting rights program manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justices Asian Law Caucus. “Too many communities are left out of local decision-making, with the same group of regulars attending every council or board meeting and speaking on every issue. Redistricting is an opportunity to change that trend.” 

“AB 849 allows our community to have a more participatory role in redistricting, providing greater transparency and enhancing community trust,” said Samuel Molina, CA State Director, Mi Familia Vota. Our democracy is stronger when we are more involved.”  

What Supporters Say About SB 139 

“Despite constituting a substantial percentage of voters in California, the interests and voting rights of Latino voters are often sacrificed to further the interests of incumbents,” said Tanya Pellegrini, Staff Attorney, MALDEF. “By requiring large counties to create independent redistricting commissions staffed by commissioners with voting rights knowledge and redistricting skills, SB 139 seeks to ensure that commissions follow constitutional and statutory law requiring them to give weight to voting rights above all other considerations.  SB 139 is an important step towards bringing more transparency and fairness to the redistricting process.”  

“We’ve already seen federally how gerrymandering can undermine the will of the people and make it nearly impossible to hold accountable legislators who choose corporate polluters over people, said Mike Young, Political & Organizing Director, California League of Conservation Voters. “Simply stated, our democracy doesn’t work when elected representatives pick their constituents instead of the other way around. That’s why passing SB 139 is such a crucial step. By establishing a fair, independent redistricting process for California counties, we can safeguard democracy and ensure impacted communities have their voices heard and can elect officials who will represent their interests not those of corporate polluters.”   

Read more about the bills here.