The California Redistricting Commission

Op-Ed: Fair and independent redistricting? Los Angeles County does it already, and better By David Corn

April 29, 2008, 2:17 PM EDT


Oh, the pain!


Los Angeles County does it already, and better

by David Corn

April 29, 2008

So you might have heard that County Executive Steve Westly, who is facing a recall fight, has proposed legislation to establish a new five-member redistricting commission. It would be comprised of three current, four newly elected members and the former chair and chair emeritus of the County Democratic Central Committee.

It’s not clear that this represents what many voters expected, because all three current commissioners, Steve Preckwinkle, Zev Yaroslavsky, and Steve Soboroff, voted against the Westly/Harris plan, which sought to replace the nonpartisan Board of Supervisors with three non-voting district representatives. But as I’ve noted a couple of times, the Westly/Harris plan doesn’t have much to recommend it.

Nonetheless, it’s an interesting idea. There are already some measures to limit election-year political campaigns in California. And we can go with the flow here. Voters are elected, and a lot of their choices are elected, through the primary process. And after the primary, voters still have the option of casting a second vote against a candidate who didn’t get a majority of votes in the first. However, there’s a process in place to try to minimize the extent of that second vote. And Westly’s proposal is intended to reduce the opportunity for ballot-box gerrymandering, since it would likely result in a lower number of voters deciding who to vote for.

Even in places like California, which is often seen as a model of meritocracy, where all citizens are allowed to attend law school, only a small percentage of students actually end up attending the

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