DOJ ‘pre-clears’ Prop. 20 House redistricting

Those behind Proposition 20, last November’s successful ballot measure to extend the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s power to include redrawing California’s Congressional districts, said today that the new law has passed an important hurdle.

The measure has received pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice, meaning the new law now can be fully implemented. Section 5 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act requires that changes in election law affecting polling places, voting systems, redistricting and other issues in certain jurisdictions be “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department to ensure they don’t infringe upon the any citizen’s voting rights.

“Preclearance has confirmed what we have known all along: that Proposition 20 protects the rights of California voters,” Charles Munger Jr., Proposition 20’s proponent and main funder (as in, almost $12.2 million of the $13.8 million behind it), said in a news release.

California Common Cause Executive Director Kathay Feng said that as the law is put into practice, “all California voters will finally have a real voice in who represents them in their districts.”

The measure’s supporters insisted letting the Legislature draw Congressional lines led to a bipartisan gerrymander that made the state’s seats safe for incumbents and reduced the possibility of competition, making House members less responsive to their constituents.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.