By: Elizabeth Profaci
As discussed in part one of this two-part series, California passed the VOTERS First Act (“the Act”) in 2008, and ever since, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”) has drawn the state’s legislative and congressional districts. As part of the redistricting process, the Act imposes deadlines on the Commission, in part to ensure the public has enough time to participate in the redistricting process. The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the release of census data and so, in Legislature v. Padilla, the California Supreme Court adjusted the deadlines imposed by the Act to allow the deadlines to change based on federal delay. However, in Legislature v. Weber, the California Supreme Court ordered the Commission to release the preliminary maps no later than November 15, 2021, and to approve and certify the final maps by December 27, 2021.
This change to the deadlines coincided with the holidays and there were concerns that this will affect the public’s ability to meaningfully comment on the proposed maps. As early as May 2021, community-based organizations and civil rights groups submitted comments to the Commission urging later deadlines. The Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) Redistricting Alliance, which was created to “empower low-income Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) residents to participate in the 2021 state and local redistricting processes and empower community residents to participate,” explained that community groups will hold workshops and meetings so that they can meaningfully contribute to the redistricting process. The IVE urged the Commission to move the deadlines outside the holiday period, otherwise, communities will not be able to contribute to and participate in the redistricting process in the same way they would in a normal year.