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Here's How The Loss Of A Congressional Seat Will Affect California's Redistricting Process

 April 28, 2021 at 1:07 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 California will lose a congressional seat for the first time in the state's history. And many are now wondering how districts are formed in the first place and what this means for their voice in Washington. While it's up to 14 people who sit on the California citizens, redistricting commission, they're responsible for drawing district lines. Joining us to break down this process is a member of that commission, Patricia Sanai, Patricia. Welcome. Speaker 2: 00:26 Thank you so much for having me today. Speaker 1: 00:28 So first off, can you tell us how this recent loss of a congressional seat fits into the redistricting process? Speaker 2: 00:34 Sure. The information that we received was from the census, the national census released the numbers for the whole country as well as States. And we have a limited number of congressional seats, 435 congressional seats, and it's based on a population formula. And so California did increase in population, but not as fast as population rate was not as large as other States. And therefore we have 52 seats out of the potential 435, which is one less than before, but we're still the largest delegation in the country. Speaker 1: 01:12 Mm. And how does census data, uh, affect or involve efforts to redistrict? Exactly. Speaker 2: 01:18 It is one of the most important information pieces of information that we use in addition to the input from the community. So we need three pieces of data to really draw out the formats that we will be drawing. We drive the congressional districts, the state Senate districts, the state assembly districts and the board of equalization. And so the reapportionment numbers that came in is the first piece, and that helps us with the congressional districts. And then we will receive in late summer the data more at the neighborhood level, the community level. And the third piece of data we need is hearing for communities, what communities want to be kept together and why it's important for them to be kept together as we're looking at districts. Speaker 1: 02:01 Hmm. And why is redistricting necessary, Speaker 2: 02:04 You know, think about your own neighborhood and how much has changed and then take that to the County level and the state level, and then the national level. Now people move, they come into the state, they leave the state and as those changes happen, priorities change. And also we need to remember that we are agreeing state so older people pass away and then we have new birth. So there's a lot of changes that take place. And the census allows us to really get a snapshot at a point in time, every 10 years of where people are. Speaker 1: 02:37 And tell us more about redistricting in general. I mean, why is it important and what issues does it, uh, particularly aim to address? Speaker 2: 02:45 I'm really proud to be a California because we have an independent redistricting commission, which means that we've taken the politics out of redistricting. And most States still to this day, it's really the legislature that draws the lines, meaning they get to choose who they're going to represent our process. Our redistricting process is focused on hearing from the community as well as the census data. And we really want to take into account, um, the voters, right facts to make sure that those communities who've been underrepresented in the past have equal opportunity to elect the representatives that they want. Redistricting is important because who you vote for, represents your issues and represents you. And it's also an allocation of budgets. The one thing I really appreciate about our redistricting efforts is that it's an open process. We will be having public meetings. As I said earlier, the legislature is in involved. This is about 14 individual citizens of California working together, you know, open door in the public. Nothing's done behind closed doors and everybody gets to say, okay, Speaker 1: 03:56 As you mentioned in other States, the, the issue of congressional districts and how they're drawn is a source of much debate as the drawing of, of these lines is oftentimes greatly politically motivated and designed to tilt the balance of political power in a given region to one political party. What steps does the California commission take to? Speaker 2: 04:17 Well, first we start with the independent redistricting commission. So the 14 individuals who are on the commission, my colleagues, uh, were selected from a poll of 20,000 Californians who applied. Yeah. It's constantly looking at creating a diverse pool of people that reflect the political realities of California, as well as professional geographic ethnic. We were vetted as this, as I explained, the redistricting process is done in public it's open sessions. Everything is zoom these days, including our meetings. And so people can watch us and we do set public comments during our business meetings. And now we're moving into the phase where we're really asking the community to submit their communities of interests, meaning their community maps. We have a tool online on our website, which is we draw the lines C a.org, and that tool can walk you through how to define your community, how to tell us why it's important to stay together as well as draw. Speaker 2: 05:24 It. It's a very simple tool, but people can also call in. They can attend one of our public input meetings that we'll be having this summer. And then in the fall, when we start our drawing of the lines, those will be open to the public as well at the public considered in. Listen to us, go through all the communities of interest. We received the data and we'll hear us kind of really work through some of the hard questions we'll need to be addressing. And finally, when we post final maps, there'll be draft maps and then final maps. The community again, gets to look at them and have a say, Speaker 1: 06:01 All right, I've been speaking with Patricia Sanai, commissioner of the California citizens, redistricting commission, Patricia, thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 2: 06:09 Well, thank you for having us.

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Following the historical loss of a congressional district, California's redistricting commission weighs in on how the change will affect how efforts to redraw the state's districts.
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