By Valerie Richardson-The Washington Times
It was as Californian as beaches, surfing and movie stars, but the legislative gerrymander may now be a thing of the past in the Golden State.
The pencil was officially passed to a new generation of map-makers Thursday when eight members of California’s newly approved citizens’ redistricting commission were selected at random. The panel is charged with drawing the lines for both legislative and congressional districts, a task that previously belonged to the Democrat-controlled state Legislature.
Deciding which voters to corral into which districts can determine the political power of a party, and that’s certainly been the case in California, where Democrats have enjoyed decades of dominance, thanks in significant part to their control of the redistricting process.
The independent redistricting commission isn’t expected to push California Democrats into the minority – they retain a sizable voter-registration advantage – but it could well mark the end of the state’s Picasso-like district maps and suspiciously safe seats on both sides of the aisle.
“We’re going from the colorful but dark side of gerrymandering to, hopefully, a new era of redistricting in the voters’ interest that could be a model for the rest of the nation,” said Douglas Johnson, a redistricting expert and fellow at the Rose Institute in Claremont, Calif.
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