Proposition 20 is a ballot measure that if passed, will remove elected representatives of the state legislature from the process of establishing congressional districts and transfer that authority to a recently-authorized 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The commission is comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four voters registered with neither party, and requires that any newly-proposed district lines be approved by nine commissioners including three Democrats, three Republicans, and three from neither party.

The commission would draw congressional districts essentially as it draws other district lines under Proposition 11, which passed in November 2008.

The commission, for example, could not draw congressional districts in order to favor incumbents, political candidates, or political parties, and also is to consider the geographic integrity of cities, counties, neighborhoods, and communities of interest.

In addition to adding similar criteria for congressional redistricting, the measure also defines a “community of interest” for both congressional redistricting and redistricting of State Assembly, State Senate, and Board of Equalization seats. A community of interest is defined as “a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.”

According to supporters of the bill on
In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 11 and took the power to draw state legislative and Board of Equalization districts out of the hands of politicians and gave it to an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. However, the politicians still draw congressional districts so that their friends in Congress are virtually guaranteed reelection. Proposition 20 will simply extend what voters already approved under Prop. 11 so the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, not legislators, will draw both legislative and congressional districts. Supporters believe that the measure will finally put an end to legislators drawing districts that virtually guarantee members of Congress get reelected, even when they don’t listen to voters.

According to opponents of the bill on
Proposition 20 wastes taxpayers’ money and does not provide any accountability. The Charles Munger Jr. initiative adds a bizarre, new redistricting criteria for Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts that will essentially encourage segregation of people by income.

One of the biggest arguments the opponents of Prop 20 have is the segregation of districts that will come about from this new redistricting process because of the requirement to community of interest. They particularly highlight this criterion:
A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation. Examples of such shared interests are those common to an urban area, a rural area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area, and those common areas in which the people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media of communication relevant to the election process.

No on 20 says this essentially encourages the segregation of people by income, and that districting by race, by class, by life or by wealth is unacceptable. Re-districting according to “similar living standards” and that districts only include people with “similar work opportunities” are code words for segregation.

Despite these concerns, California Black Chamber of Congress President Aubry Stone is on the steering committee supporting Yes on 20. The California State Conference of the NAACP is also a supporter.