Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission).
What is the Commission?
Every ten years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, California must redraw the boundaries of its Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts, so that the districts correctly reflect the state’s population. The 2020 Commission will be selected from a group of California citizens and will be charged with drawing all district lines.
Why do we have a Commission?
California voters authorized the creation of the Commission when they passed the Voters FIRST Act (Act) in 2008. It authorized the Commission to draw the new district lines. In 2010, the Voters FIRST Act for Congress added the responsibility of drawing Congressional districts to the Commission.
Who can serve on the Commission?
The Act requires the State Auditor to initiate and implement an application process for selecting the 14 members of the Commission. You can apply for the Commission if you meet the minimum eligibility requirements:
- Have been a registered voter since July 1, 2015;
- Have been registered without a, or "independent" of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or registered with the same political party since July 1, 2015; and
- Voted in at least two of the last three statewide elections.
However, an applicant is ineligible to serve on the Commission if the applicant has a conflict of interest as defined by the Act within the ten years prior to submitting an application.
How do I apply to become a member of the Commission?
You may submit an online application to the California State Auditor’s Office (office) during the initial 60-day application period from June 10, 2019, to August 9, 2019.
The application may be saved while it is being filled out, and therefore completed during multiple sessions on a computer. Applicants who meet all of the qualifications for serving on the Commission, and do not have a conflict of interest, will be invited to submit a supplemental application containing additional information about their qualifications.
How many Commission members will there be?
The Commission will have 14 members: five members who are Democrats, five members who are Republicans and four members who are either registered without a, or "independent" of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or with another party.
How will the members of the Commission be selected after the application period closes?
The initial and supplemental applications will be forwarded to an Applicant Review Panel (panel) consisting of three independent auditors in mid-September 2019*. Once the panel has reviewed all the applications, the panel will select up to 120 of the “most qualified applicants,” who the panel will then personally interview in Sacramento, California. The 120 applicants will be divided into three sub-pools according to party affiliation. One sub-pool will consist of 40 applicants who are Democrats, a second sub-pool will consist of 40 applicants who are Republicans, and a third sub-pool will consist of 40 applicants who are either registered without a, or "independent" of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or with another party. The office will reimburse applicants for their reasonable and necessary travel expenses to participate in an interview.
From the 120 applicants who are interviewed, the panel will select 60 of the most qualified applicants divided into three sub-pools according to party affiliation. One sub-pool will consist of 20 applicants who are Democrats, a second sub-pool will consist of 20 applicants who are Republicans, and a third sub-pool will consist of 20 applicants who are either registered without a, or "independent" of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or with another party.
No later than May 15, 2020, the panel will present the names of the applicants who remain in the three sub-pools to the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the Assembly for consideration by the President pro Tempore of the Senate, the Minority Floor Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Minority Floor Leader of the Assembly. Each of these legislative leaders may remove up to two applicants from each of the sub-pools for a total of up to 24 struck applicants. The names of the applicants not removed from the sub-pools are then submitted to the State Auditor no later than June 30, 2020.
The State Auditor must then, by July 5, 2020, randomly draw from the names remaining in the three sub-pools, the names of three applicants who are Democrats, three applicants who are Republicans and two applicants who are either registered without a, or "independent" of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or with another party. These eight applicants shall become the first eight members of the Commission.
The first eight members of the Commission will then select the final six members of the Commission by selecting two commissioners from each of the three sub-pools that the State Auditor used when drawing the names of the first eight commissioners. The last six commissioners must be appointed by August 15, 2020.
*Date is subject to change.
How will the new district boundaries get approved?
The Commission is required to define the geographic boundaries for the Congressional Districts, State Senate districts, State Assembly districts, and State Board of Equalization districts so that they contain reasonably equal populations. The Commission will determine the precise process. The 2010 Commission engaged in meetings throughout the State to identify communities of interest, many of the meetings were held on nights and weekends.
Once the Commission has agreed on the geographic boundaries of the districts, the districts will be displayed on four maps: one map displaying the revised Congressional districts, a second map displaying the revised State Senate districts, a third map displaying the revised State Assembly districts, and a fourth map displaying the revised State Board of Equalization districts. The Commission will then vote to approve the four maps.
To be approved, each map must receive the affirmative vote of at least three Commission members who are Democrats, three Commission members who are Republicans and three Commission members who are who are either registered without a, or "independent" of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or with another party. Once the Commission has approved the final maps, the maps are certified to the Secretary of State with a report explaining the basis on which the Commission made its decisions.
Will the Commission members be paid?
The Act specifies that members of the Commission will be compensated at the rate of $300 (will be adjusted by CPI) for each day a Commissioner is engaged in Commission business. The Act also allows for reimbursement for personal expenses incurred in connection with the duties required of commissioners.
How long will Commission members serve?
The Act states that the Commission will serve for 10 years beginning with the selection of the first member by random selection no later than July 5, 2020, and ending with the random selection of the first member of the succeeding Commission no later than August 15, 2030. However, much of the work that the commissioners will perform should be completed by the time they approve the maps of the new districts, which is required by August 15, 2021.
Can I keep my current job and still serve on the Commission?
A person’s ability to perform the duties of other employment while serving on the Commission will depend on the nature of the employment, but an applicant should assume that their time will have to be devoted primarily to the work of the Commission during the 12 months that the Commission members are working toward the approval of the final maps. The Commission’s primary redistricting duties take place between August 15, 2020, and end no later than August 15, 2021.
To encourage service on the Commission, the Act provides that no employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, or retaliate against any employee for attending a Commission meeting. Following the approval of the final maps, the duties of the Commission may be flexible enough to permit a normal employment schedule.