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California’s Local Redistricting Commissions

A local jurisdiction can be established by resolution, ordinance, or charter amendment an independent redistricting commission

By Chris Micheli, February 3, 2022 6:41 am

The California Elections Code, in Division 21, Chapter 9, provides for local advisory and independent redistricting commissions. Section 23000 provides definitions for the following terms: “advisory redistricting commission”; “family member”; “hybrid redistricting commission”; “independent redistricting commission”; “legislative body”; “local jurisdiction”; “redistricting”; and, “spouse.”

Section 23001 authorizes a local jurisdiction to establish by resolution, ordinance, or charter amendment an independent redistricting commission, a hybrid redistricting commission, or an advisory redistricting commission composed of residents of the local jurisdiction to change the legislative body’s district boundaries or to recommend to the legislative body changes to those district boundaries.

Section 23002 provides that this section applies to advisory redistricting commissions. The local jurisdiction may prescribe the manner in which members are appointed to the commission. A person who is an elected official of the local jurisdiction, or a family member, staff member, or paid campaign staff of an elected official of the local jurisdiction, is prohibited from being appointed to serve on the commission. A local jurisdiction may impose additional requirements or restrictions on the commission, members of the commission, or applicants to the commission in excess of those prescribed by this section.

Section 23003 provides that this section applies to hybrid redistricting commissions and independent redistricting commissions. The local jurisdiction may prescribe the manner in which members are appointed to the commission, provided that the jurisdiction uses an application process open to all eligible residents and provided that the commissioners are not directly appointed by the legislative body or an elected official of the local jurisdiction. There are several prohibited persons from being appointed to serve on the commission. Members of these commissions are prohibited from engaging in certain activities.

In addition, the commission is subject to the same redistricting deadlines, requirements, and restrictions that would otherwise apply to a legislative body. A local jurisdiction may also impose additional requirements and restrictions on the commission, on members of the commission, or on applicants to the commission in excess of those prescribed by this section.

The commission is required to publish a map of the proposed new district boundaries and make that map available to the public for at least seven days before that map may be adopted. The commission is required to hold at least three public hearings preceding the hearing at which the new boundaries are adopted. In addition, the commission is prohibited from drawing districts for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against a political party or an incumbent or political candidate.

Section 23004 provides that a local jurisdiction, except for a county, may contract with a county in which the local jurisdiction is partially or wholly located that has established an independent redistricting commission to have that commission adopt the local jurisdiction’s election district boundaries. The county independent redistricting commission is required to hold at least three public hearings in the local jurisdiction before adopting those boundaries.

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