Initiative & Referendum Institute

at the University of Southern California 


Redistricting: Another California Revolution?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for reform of the way districts are drawn for state and federal legislative offices. Currently, the California legislature has the power to draw district lines for the state Assembly, the state Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Each house draws its own districts, and they work together on the congressional districts. In California, legislators have used their redistricting authority to construct districts that protect incumbents. In other states, like Texas, the majority party draws district lines to entrench their political control. This process is often called partisan gerrymandering, named for Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry who in 1812 crafted a salamander-shaped district for political purposes. Redistricting often must occur after the decennial census to readjust boundaries to account for population shifts. The redistricting reform supported by Schwarzenegger would shift the power to draw district lines to a nonpartisan commission of retired judges. This report, by USC professor and IRI director Elizabeth Garrett, discusses the history of apportionment reform in California, current developments, and prospects for future reform.

Download: IRI Report 2005-1 (February 2005)

Related links

Anderson-Persily paper on initiatives and institutional reform (at conference page).

California apportionment initiative in circulation (SA2004RF0037) (from Secretary of State web site)



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2014 Initiative & Referendum Institute

University of Southern California

Los Angeles CA 90089-0071