Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Redistricting Details

The text of the Redistricting Amendment championed by Gov. Schwarzenegger is now available so we can see the details of how the three "Special Masters" will be appointed every 10 years to redraw legislative districts. Frankly, I'm quite impressed. I think it cleverly answers a lot of concerns that political parties will be represented too little or too much. And by the way, the Governor has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

1. The Judicial Council draws 24 names by random lot from the pool of (willing) retired judges. The two "largest parties" in California shall be equally represented in the pool. Among the many qualifications a potential Special Masters must meet is that his political party affiliation may not have changed since the day he was appointed. (The reasons for this will become obvious in the next step.)

2. The Speaker of the Assembly, the Minority Leader in the Assembly, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the Senate will each nominate 3 of the 24 judges. Each of these leaders may only select judges affiliated a different political party than their own, and they all must select different judges. The result will be a list of 12.

3. From the list of 12, the Clerk of the Assembly will then select 3 at random. If there is not at least one member from each of the two largest parties, the Clerk will re-draw until this is the case. The result is a set of three Special Masters who will then draw the districts.

4. There are plenty of requirements of open meetings, public comment, and no ex-parte communications. There is good verbage to direct the Special Masters about equality of populations, contiguous and compact districts respecting county/city boundaries as much as possible, etc.

5. The final plan must be approved unanimously, by all 3 Special Masters. It is publicly announced and there are 45 days to initiate court challenges, and the courts may apply any remedy to fix the problem, including starting the process again. The plan then takes effect... but the voters will have a chance to toss it out (next step.)

6. The final plan is then submitted to the Voters at the next statewide election as a referendum. If the voters say no, then it's back to the drawing board... within 90 days, we start the process all over again, selecting a new set of Special Masters, etc. The new plan will be submitted at the *next* statewide election.


Anonymous said...

So, the minority and majority get equal representation in the selection. I see why Republicans prefer that to the current plan of the majority contending only with the possibility of veto. This also makes it just as likely that 2 of 3 will be Republicans.

At the end of the day, 3 people will make the decision with almost no review (public vote isn't much here, up or down on everything).

I have no problem with using this system for the whole state government, but for the fed seats it bothers me. In Texas, they gerrymander at will in favor of Republicans. Why should only blue states have to be fair?


// posted by Law Talking Guy

Anonymous said...

I'm opposed to this system for the following reasons.

It is designed to exagerate Republican influence over district shapes despite the long term deep unpopularity of Republican ideas in California state wide.

The one interesting feature I saw was that Democratic selector and Republican selector can only appoint Judges "affiliated" with other parties. But what is to prevent Republicans from appointing Libertarians and Democrats from appointing Greens? Or both from appointing self described "independents" who everyone knows vote only one way.

I'm not that upset with the current system. Odd shapes in of themselves don't bother me. I don't know why people get upset by odd shapes anyway. What we should really care about is the policy generated. But we should acknowledge that ANY district shape will have biases towards particular kinds of policies.

Let me suggest a possible scenario. 3 judges are selected at random from this pool. But it happens that all three are Republicans (with such a small number of draws from the pool that is not that unlikely). We would then have a state with a massive majority in favor of the Democrats having its districts being drawn to favor Republicans.

This proposal by Schwarzenegger is far worse than the current system. In the current system, partisan majorities draw up the district boundaries. As those majorities shift, boundaries are redrawn (with a lag because of the 10 year census interval). Over time, the system is "fair." In Schwarzenegger's system there is no assurance that the boundaries being drawn will reflect the majority at all.

Now, I'm a big fan of minority views being able to block moves by the majority but I'm not a fan of the minority being able to impose its rule on the majority. Schwarnzenegger's plan seems to me like an attempt by an increasingly unpopular governor from a persistently unpopular party to lock in a system that give his constituents the potential to control California's representation for decades based on little more than a coin flip!

And a grand finale of complaints: Why are judges assumed to be more reasonable and "objective" than anyone else? Why not a random selection of tax payers? And why only 3? Why not 30? At least with 30 selections the "random" element would be more genuine.

Of course the real solution would be to have the entire state set up as one giant electoral district with multiple seats elected state wide. But that would create biases in favor of other policies. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Actually, RBR, the plan does call to re-draw until there is at least 1 of each party. So the only options are 2-1. And unanimity is then required.  

// posted by Law Talking Guy