SF on the Verge of Making Redistricting History, Despite Erroneous Attacks

California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of San Francisco Urge the Board of Supervisors to send an independent redistricting commission to voters this fall

San Francisco — Progress toward common sense redistricting reform is in jeopardy in San Francisco as the Board of Supervisors inches towards their deadline for referring measures to this November’s ballot. The Board is currently considering whether to place a measure on the November 2024 ballot that would replace the City’s “wildly controversial and chaotic” advisory redistricting commission, which led a process characterized by “bedlam,” with a best-in-class independent redistricting commission. The advisory commission itself concluded in its final report that it needed to be replaced with a new body less vulnerable to political influence.

California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of San Francisco call on the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing and send independent redistricting to the voters. Independent redistricting is a proven, vetted, good-government reform that has worked well in countless California jurisdictions.

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters are strictly nonpartisan organizations, uninterested in advancing one political party or faction. They have spent the past several years closely tracking local redistricting in California through firsthand experience in over 60 local jurisdictions and have published extensive research on the topic. Our experience and that research have both found that jurisdictions where voters had the most transparent, inclusive, and fair redistricting processes used independent redistricting commissions, where qualified, independent members led open and exhaustive public processes to draw district lines. This has been validated by redistricting experts nationwide in new findings

Conversely, areas where voters had the most manipulative, self-serving gerrymanders either allowed sitting incumbents to draw their own districts, or allowed sitting incumbents to handpick the people who draw district lines. The latter occurred in San Francisco, where two-thirds of the City’s redistricting task force is composed of commissioners appointed by incumbent politicians. The process they led in 2021-2022 was broken and messy, corrupted by politicians meddling behind the scenes and with significant community outcry and loss of public trust. 

Independent redistricting commissions were used in the last redistricting cycle by the State of California for congressional and state legislative seats, by 18 California cities, and by four California counties. They reliably created fair, transparent, and nonpartisan processes that were centered on community participation instead of incumbents and politics. This is the standard San Francisco deserves. 

Statement of California Common Cause Executive Director, Jonathan Mehta Stein:

After years of advocacy by California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of San Francisco, and our partners, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is on the verge of sending independent redistricting to the ballot for voters to decide on. 

We proudly support this democracy-strengthening measure — it is a proven, vetted, nonpartisan reform that has worked in countless other jurisdictions across California. 

Some powerful voices in favor of the broken status quo system are attempting to block our common-sense, good-government reform from being referred to the voters, with erroneous claims it will politicize the process. Everywhere independent redistricting has been tried, it has led to fair, transparent, and nonpartisan outcomes.

California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of San Francisco advocate for a government that serves the public interest, not private interests and politicians. We do not care about any particular party or faction. Independent redistricting is simple, proven good government – partisan disinformation that claims the opposite is rooted in fiction.

The decision to implement independent redistricting in the City belongs to the voters. The Board of Supervisors must refer this measure to the ballot so that San Franciscans can vote for the democracy they want to see.