By WUD Government Affairs Team

For centuries gerrymanderingwas an established practice in American politics intended to provide an advantage to a particular party by manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts based on the establishment of the census count conducted every ten years.

The term gerrymanderingis named after former Vice President Elbridge Gerry who, when Governor of Massachusetts in 1812, signed a bill that created a partisan district in the City of Boston that was compared to the shape of a mythological salamander. The term was used in reference to this type of political district line drawing that benefited preferred incumbent elected officials and had almost always been considered a corruption of the democratic process.

The use of political gerrymandering ended in California, when in 2008, voters passed the Voters First Actwhich established an independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission and empowered the Commission to draw the district boundaries of the State Legislature, Congressional districts and Board of Equalization seats.

Earlier this fall, the Citizens Redistricting Commission released a series of draft district boundaries that were drawn in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Californians. The lines are designed to ensure equal opportunity for minority communities to elect a candidate of their choice, must be connected, have geographic integrity, should be geographically compact and, to the extent possible, be nested into other legislative and congressional districts.

Based on the Commissions release of the latest legislative boundaries last week, the implications of these new districts are likely to be significant because as it stands, there are 20 members of Congress, 29 State Assemblymembers and 19 State Senators who live in the same district as another incumbent representative. The effects of these new district boundaries are well analyzed in the recent CalMatters piece here:

The Commission will finalize the district boundaries no later than December 27, 2021 and these maps will be the basis for which candidates file to run for the State Legislature, Congress and the Board of Equalization. Elected members will either stay putand run for the existing redrawn seat where they reside, or move into newneighboring district to run perhaps against another incumbent elected representative. Another outcome will be likely to be a number of retirements those elected officials determining not to seek another term given the political makeup of the new district boundaries. The effects of this process are almost certain to mean significant changes in the makeup of the State Legislature and the California Congressional Delegation for the next decade.

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