- Establishment of an independent commission with representation by the minority party, third parties and independents instead of total control by the majority party.LATFOR, which has drawn lines during the past four redistricting cycles, was controlled by the majorities in each house.
The new plan replaces LATFOR with an independent commission whose appointees are evenly divided between majority and minority parties. For the first time ever, unaffiliated or third party members will also be included in the redistricting process.
The power of the majorities will be further diminished by the manner in which the staff of the commission will be chosen; there will be two co-executive directors selected by a majority vote of the commission with the rest of the staff being hired by the directors, marking the first time the staff is not hired by the majorities.
- Codification of important criteria for drawing lines.
The principles of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), which are increasingly facing threat of retrogression in the courts and Congress, are added to the state constitution, preserving the rights of language and racial minorities. Lines would be prohibited from being drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents, political parties or candidates. Communities of interest are recognized for the first time as a criterion for drawing lines.
- Curtailment of majority party dominance in the approval process.
The voting procedures and thresholds for passage of a redistricting plan by the independent commission and the legislature vary depending on which parties control each house of the legislature. Supermajority votes are established to prevent dominance by one political party or majority parties in both the commission and the legislature for approval of district lines.
- Increased transparency
The proposed amendment breaks new ground in transparency by requiring software, data and maps to be provided to the public, allowing for independent analysis and the creation of maps by the public.
- Establishment of firm deadlines
Firm deadlines are established for the different stages of the redistricting process to ensure that lines are established in a timely manner and delays in drawing maps do not disadvantage challengers running against state legislative or congressional incumbents.These important changes would be made permanent through the passage of the proposed constitutional amendment. The proposed amendment is accompanied by a statute that places an additional constraint on the legislature’s ability to amend the lines proposed by the commission.