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CA Good-Government Groups Focus on Racial Equity in Redistricting


Wednesday, December 8, 2021   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- As California enters the final stretch in the redistricting process, civil rights groups are pressing the state's redistricting commission to prioritize racial equity, so historically underrepresented groups have a better shot at electing leaders of their choice.

The California Redistricting Commission is holding public meetings on the draft legislative maps almost every day. The maps are expected to be approved on Dec. 24.

Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, said communities of interest need to examine the proposed maps closely.

"We should be looking really hard about whether the proposed lines are drawn in a way that maybe they inadvertently or intentionally hurt a community, but they're drawn that way in order to help an incumbent," Feng contended.

Advocates want voting districts that avoid pitting minority groups against each other, and that keep communities of interest together. The commission is now taking public comment on the draft maps at its meetings and on its website.

Brandon Jessup, deputy director of data and technology for the advocacy group State Voices, said advocates need to delve deep into the census data and press the state commission to consider where communities of color are likely to grow.

"We need to also say that in the next five years, this community will now be a minority-majority community," Jessup asserted. "And therefore, we have to give them the agency to elect folks that look like them, that reflect their interests."

Groups are also preparing to sue under the Voting Rights Act if they deem the final maps unfair. To bring such a case, attorneys look for places where a minority group is large enough to comprise a majority, where there's a history of racially polarized voting or racial discrimination, and where the minority group is being outvoted.

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