California voters are not the only ones who will decide whether to take the redrawing of political lines out of the hands of officeholders.
By Nancy Vogel, Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2005
Latimes.com : Politics
SACRAMENTO — When California voters go to the polls Nov. 8 to decide whether to strip lawmakers of the authority to draw their own districts, so will voters in Ohio. Millions more are likely to follow in Massachusetts and Florida.
In these and more than a dozen other states, activists are busy concocting different solutions to the same problem. They are trying to find a less political way to draw districts for Congress and legislatures so voters have a better crack at actually deciding elections.
What's at stake, some say, is democracy's cornerstone.
"To some extent, the power to draw lines is more important than the power of voting," said Nathaniel Persily, a redistricting expert who is a professor of law and political science at the University of Pennsylvania. "The redistricting process is often more determinative of who wins elections than the voting in elections itself."
From California, where Proposition 77 would put redistricting in the hands of three retired judges, to Florida, where a circulating initiative would create a 15-member bipartisan redistricting commission, the usually arcane, once-a-decade process of redrawing districts to even out shifts in population is a hot political topic.
Besides ballot measures pending or in the works in California, Ohio, Florida and Massachusetts, bills to create independent or bipartisan redistricting commissions have been introduced in at least 12 state legislatures this year. In Congress, a Tennessee Republican introduced a bill to mandate independent commissions nationwide.