In January, three members of the California Independent Redistricting Commission traveled to Michigan to share their stories and testimonials from drawing California’s election maps in 2011. Democrat Jeanne Raya, Republican Peter Yao and Independent Connie Malloy joined Voters Not Politicians’ supporters at three town halls across the state of Michigan and hosted a private Q&A session for volunteers.
Volunteers and attendees found it inspiring to hear about how the commissioners put partisan politics aside and worked together to draw voting maps to best represent communities of interest in California.
Republican commissioner Peter Yao said that the first run of the California Independent Redistricting Commission worked out “exceptionally” and that they mostly “did all the work in 8 months in 2011.” Democrat commissioner Jeanne Raya, a small business owner, called the process “a very small group making a very important decision.”
Yao discussed the criteria the commission used, including federal guidelines like ensuring each district had an equal population and adhered to the Voting Rights Act. He also mentioned that the commission had a “no politics” guideline, meaning that the commissioners purposefully did not consider political data like where incumbents lived or voter registration data.
The commissioners agreed that their success depended on public participation. They held 34 public hearings to hear from Californians across the state and posted all public concerns and statements online. Raya said that these public hearings helped them define communities of interest: “The idea is to engage the public, so the public comes in and tells us what their community of interest is. That is not something to which we gave a definition. It was entirely the responsibility and the right and privilege of the voters to come in and testify before us and give us that information about communities of interest.”
By listening to the voters of California, the commission was able to draw maps that positively impacted the elections in California. The commissioners stressed the importance of independence from partisan bias in their process. Independent Connie Malloy stressed the importance of education behind the ballot initiative and spoke to the outpouring of feedback from Californians who never had their voices represented in California’s previous redistricting process.
The California Independent Redistricting Commission was formed when California passed two successful ballot initiatives in 2008 and 2010 to take redistricting power away from the Democrat-controlled legislature and put the power back in the hands of Californians.
The California Independent Redistricting Commission has been a major success, resulting in the election of new lawmakers and opening the doors to representatives who work to earn the peoples’ votes. This has lead California to bipartisan solutions that have breathed new life into the state.
Yao, Raya, and Malloy joined other California Commissioners to travel across the country to share their story and to show voters how an Independent Redistricting Commission can create better maps using a transparent process. The commissioners’ visit was funded by a grant from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University. The grant was designed to help the commission to “promote replication and dissemination of their work across the country.”
You can watch a replay of one of the California Commissioner Town Halls below:
While other states are sending their gerrymandered election maps to the Supreme Court for resolution, Voters Not Politicians is laser-focused on a solution similar to California’s that fixes the process, not just the problem. Together, we can create a better Michigan where our politicians listen to us, the voters, not their lobbyists or donors. It’s time that voters choose their politicians, not the other way around. Here’s how you can help:
Save the Date // save the date and vote YES for an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in the November 6 2018 election!
Donate // the politicians and special interests who benefit from the current system will spend millions defending and protecting their unfair advantage. We have to fight back, and that will include advertising and putting together hundreds of local events across Michigan to educate voters on their rights. Donate to Voters Not Politicians here.
Volunteer // we are recruiting volunteers to spread the word in 2018 to help us end gerrymandering in Michigan! If you are interested in being a part of this vital part of the process, please click here.
Stay educated // learn more about gerrymandering and how you can defeat it! Stay up to date on campaign updates and news by signing up for our newsletter here.