Prop 40 Cheat Sheet: Referendum on Redrawn State Senate Districts

Prop 40 is a referendum on California's recently redrawn state Senate districts. Every 10 years, following the decennial Census, the state redraws its political boundaries to account for changing demographics. This was the first year the boundaries were set by an independent citizens commission rather than the state legislature.

Members of the Republican Party initially challenged the new maps, but the original backers of Prop 40 have since dropped their campaign efforts and are no longer seeking to get it passed.

View the maps here.

WHAT YOUR VOTE MEANS
Voting YES means that you want to keep the maps as drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Voting NO means that you want to redraw the maps. In this case, state courts would put in place temporary district boundaries until new ones can be drawn. The courts are widely expected to use something very similar to the commission's maps.

WHO/WHAT IT WOULD AFFECT
State Government: Redrawing the districts would cost the state about $500,000 and counties would likely have to spend another $500,000 collectively to create new precinct maps.

Voters: The commission's new state Senate boundaries will be used for the November election, regardless. If Prop 40 passes, some voters could find they are in a new district with a new state Senator to represent them by the next statewide election.

WHO'S BEHIND IT
Initially, Republican activists petitioned for a referendum on the Senate maps to gain a few districts more favorable to their party. The California Republican Party itself is the main financial backer. Other major supporters are (or were):

  • Friends of Mimi Walters for Senate 2012
  • Frank Greinke
  • Sen. Bob Dutton for Supervisor 2014
  • Denham for Lt. Governor 2014

WHO'S AGAINST IT
Wealthy philanthropist and physicist Charles Munger was the only contributor to the opposition campaign as of Aug. 29, according to filings with the Secretary of State. The original proponents of the measure have since abandoned their campaign and are no longer seeking to reject the new Senate maps.

ARGUMENTS BEING MADE FOR

  • Yes on 40 protects the voter-approved independent citizens redistricting commission, keeping the maps they drew in place.

  • Californians have voted three times in the past four years to have district maps drawn by an independent commission instead of politicians. Prop 11 in 2008 established the commission. Prop 20 in 2010 extended its authority to the state's Congressional districts. Prop 27 in 2010 rejected politicians' attempt to eliminate the commission and return redistricting authority to them.

ARGUMENTS BEING MADE AGAINST
No arguments appear in the official voter information guide. Instead, this note appears from the original proponents:

"As sponsors of Proposition 40, our intention was to overturn the commission's State Senate districts for 2012. However, due to the State Supreme Court's ruling that kept these districts in place for 2012, we have suspended our campaign and no longer seek a NO vote."

Top Image: Screenshot of the new state Senate districts that were approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

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