Common Cause, Gov. Schwarzenegger join forces to fix a broken system

Common Cause and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced today that they are joining forces to put an end to California’s failed system for drawing congressional and state legislative boundaries, a process known as redistricting.

Common Cause President Chellie Pingree and Gov. Schwarzeneggar called on California legislators to support legislation to establish an independent redistricting panel of nonpartisan judges and to create fair criteria to draw district boundaries that will lead to more electoral competition and accountability to the voters.

“In California and around the country, we have a broken system where elected officials are choosing the voters they want to represent, instead of the other way around,” Pingree said. “We need to put the power to draw political lines in the hands of independent, non-partisan commissions and we need strong and fair criteria for drawing the districts. This will put the power back in the hands of the voter.”

Gov. Schwarzenegger argued that California voters have little ability to hold their elected officials accountable. “In the November elections, 153 California Congressional and Legislative seats were up for grabs, and not one changed parties, that is not a democracy,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “It is time to make our representatives more responsive to the people who elect them. I welcome the support of Common Cause and look forward to working with them to put trust and fairness back into our elections.”

For Common Cause, the partnership with Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California reform effort mark the beginning of a national campaign to take the redistricting process out of the hands of state legislators and to entrust independent commissions with the task. Common Cause is aggressively pushing for reform in several states in addition to California, including, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.

“We have been pushing for redistricting for many years,” said Pingree. “In the past couple of years it has become increasingly apparent that the current system just doesn’t work. We see it that way, Gov. Schwarzenegger sees it that way, and the voters see it that way. We share the belief that it is time for change.”