The 14-person Citizens Redistricting Commission managed California's redistricting for the first time in 2011. Nearly 14,000 people have applied for one of the seats for the post-2020 remapping process.
Surge of interest by would-be citizen mapmakers in California
So many people want to draw the political boundaries for the nation's biggest state that California's Citizens Redistricting Commission application deadline has been extended.
State Auditor Elaine Howle, who is in charge of an extraordinarily complex process for selecting the 14 "ordinary citizen" commissioners, set a new deadline of Aug. 19 after reporting she's received 13,735 applications in eight weeks — and that the papers are now coming in at a rate of 1,000 a day.
"Many more Californians who are learning more about redistricting and are developing an interest in the opportunity may now want to take advantage of the chance to draw California's congressional and state legislative district lines," she said in announcing the extension.
Whoever is chosen will get to work after the census results are finalized at the end of 2020. They will be charged with putting an emphasis on geographic compactness, keeping communities together and assuring ethnic minorities can get elected. rather than on protecting incumbents or tilting the partisan balance of power.
The process was created by statewide referendum in 2008 and the praise for the first panel, formed for the redistricting of this decade, helped accelerate the movement to combat gerrymandering by getting more states to turn district drawing over to non-politicians.
The work will be especially closely watched this time because California may not have grown fast enough to keep all 53 of its seats in the House of Representatives — almost one-eighth of the chamber's membership. If the census proves that, it will be the first time in the state's 160-year history that its congressional delegation shrinks, and doing away with one district will be the commission's most visible assignment.
Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)
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The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.
Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.
The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.
Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.
With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.