California Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission draws the congressional and state legislative districts. The 14-member redistricting commission is chosen from a pool of 60 applicants selected by a panel put together by the State Auditors. These potential Commissioners are comprised of 20 democrats, 20 republicans, and 20 individuals not affiliated with either major party. The majority and minority leaders of both California legislative chambers may each eliminate two nominees from each political category. Three democrats, three republicans, and two unaffiliated nominees are then selected at random to serve as Commissioners. These eight are then responsible for rounding out the Commission by selecting an additional two democrats, two republicans, and two unaffiliated members. The completed Commission has primary responsibility for redistricting in the state. Each Commissioner must be a voter who has been continuously registered in California with the same political party or unaffiliated with a political party and who has not changed political party affiliation for five or more years immediately preceding the date of his or her appointment. Each Commissioner shall have voted in two of the last three statewide general elections immediately preceding his or her application.

By August 15 of the year ending in one (December 15, for the year 2021 as a result of the case Legislature of California v. Padilla), the Commission approves and certifies maps for Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts to the Secretary of State. A supermajority of nine of the 14 Commissioners, including three members from each of the two major political parties and three members not affiliated with these parties, is required to approve district plans. These plans are subject to referendum. If a plan is rejected by voters or Commissioners are unable to pass a plan in a timely fashion, the Supreme Court of California will appoint special masters to produce a final plan. Once certified to the Secretary of State, the masters’ plan becomes final.

Challenges to the maps are litigated in the State Supreme Court.

Source: Cal. Const. art. XXI, §§ 1-3. Cal. Gov’t Code § 8252 (2019).

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Direct initiatives and referendums are permitted to amend statutes. Direct initiatives are permitted to amend the state Constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend both statutes and the Constitution.

Single-Subject Rule
There is a single-subject rule.

Initiative Subject Restrictions
An initiative measure cannot contain a provision guaranteeing its approval should it only get a certain percentage of votes.

Signature Requirements
The signature requirement for constitutional amendments is 8% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the previous gubernatorial election, 5% for all other initiatives, and 5% for a veto referendum. 12,464,235 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2018 General Election in California, so 997,139 signatures are required for constitutional amendments, 623,212 signatures are required for any other initiative, and 623,212 signatures are required for a veto referendum.

Submission Deadlines
Initiative petitions must be submitted 131 days before the next general election (June 30, 2022). Referendums must be submitted within 90 days from the date the legislative bill was chaptered by the SOS.

Circulation Period
The circulation period for initiative petitions is 180 days.

Ballot Title and Summary
The Ballot Title and Summary are written by the Attorney General. Expedited reviews for Titles and Summaries are permitted.

Other Requirements
A fiscal impact statement is required. Circulators are required to be at least 18 years old, and a resident of the state. There are no supermajority requirements. The Legislature can amend or repeal an approved initiative statute by referring another statute to the people. Referendums and statutes may not provide for tax levies or appropriations for current expenses of the state. Initiatives are permitted on general, primary, and special election ballots, but not on odd-year ballots.

Source: Cal. Const. art. II. Cal. Elec. Code, §§ 102-104, 9001-1916, 1950 (2019). California Elections Division Website

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