Common Cause, League of Women Voters Join Sen. Lowenthal to Urge Passage Of Redistricting Reform Legislation

Kathay Feng, (310)-880-6668

Michael Khoo, (202) 822-5200

Common Cause, League of Women Voters Join Sen. Lowenthal to Urge Passage Of Redistricting Reform Legislation

New Report Release Thursday:Analysis Shows Political Redistricting Reduced

Competitive Districts In California By More Than 50%

SACRAMENTO — California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California and Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-27) gathered today at a press event to urge Assembly and Senate leaders to move redistricting reform legislation forward. Both organizations have endorsed Sen. Lowenthal’s bill, SCA 3, which would create an independent redistricting commission to implement redistricting once a decade.

At the event, Common Cause released a new study “Designer Districts: Safe Seats Tailor Made For Incumbents”, that compared California’s experience with redistricting carried out by the legislature in 1980 and 2000 with that carried out by an outside body in 1990. The report demonstrates that redistricting done by an independent panel improves democracy by drawing districts that respect communities of interest and more that are competitive.

“Our report shows that competitive electoral races dropped in California by more than 50% because of redistricting by politicians,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause. “Instead of voters choosing politicians, it’s the other way around and that’s a threat to democracy. That’s why we are standing here today with the League of Women Voters supporting Senator Lowenthal’s redistricting reform legislation. The task of drawing political districts should be taken out of the hands of incumbent politicians and given to an independent commission operating under full public oversight.”

Stated Roy Ulrich, California Common Cause boardmember, “Sen. Lowenthal’s bill has Common Cause’s support because it would allow persons from all walks of life to serve on the panel. At the same time, SCA 3 prevents persons with political self-interest from drawing the maps. Additionally, SCA 3 would provide for redistricting to occur only once a decade, after new Census numbers are released.”

The report shows:

During the 1990 cycle, when an independent panel redrew the lines, the number of competitive races increased by more than 50 percent.

During the 2000 cycle, when the legislature drew the lines, the number of competitive races decreased by more than 55 percent. In fact, no incumbents lost in either election, and in the 2004 elections, not one seat in the state legislature changed parties.

The 1990 process increased competitive races by 43 percent in the U.S. House and by 59 percent in the state legislative races.

After the 2000 redistricting round, there was a 77 percent decrease in competitive races for the California congressional delegation and a 47 percent decrease in competitive races for the state legislature.

Common Cause is pushing for reforms that will: 1) create an independent and representative redistricting commission, 2) set fair criteria for congressional and legislative districts, and 3) ensure public participation and transparency.