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Apply for the Citizens Redistricting Commission - Deadline is Feb. 12

December 18, 2009

Hi Folks,

Well, the moment has arrived -- the application process for the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission has begun! Kudos to California State Auditor Elaine Howle and her staff for successfully getting us to this point. It hasn't been easy. First an entirely new application and selection process had to be created, as well as regulations. That took most of this year. But here we are, in mid-December, and the schedule is on track and on time. When it comes to implementing initiatives in California, that is where you want to be.

Initially I thought launching the application process during the holidays might be a bad idea because people are busy thinking about non-work things. But this isn't really a work thing. It's more a serve-your-state kind of thing. And I think it's actually exactly the kind of thing folks might want to think about during the holidays. The holidays are a time when we think about giving, of our time and our talents.

For the Citizens Redistricting Commission, its 14 members will need both. This really is a "citizens" commission -- political professionals, candidates, lobbyists, consultants, big donors, appointees, campaign workers -- those folks are not qualified to serve on the commission according to Proposition 11 (the initiative that created the commission) and the regulations. That's understandable -- you don't want political hacks on this thing, after all, or else we'll end up with the same kind of crummy, nonsensical districts we already have.

The measure's authors went even further -- they extended Prop. 11's conflict of interest prohibitions to an applicant's immediate family members as well. The initiative defines "immediate family" as "one with whom the person has a bona fide relationship established through blood or legal relation, including parents, children, siblings, and in-laws."

Fortunately, the new regulations reign in this provision a bit, by defining the term "bona fide" to include a family member who share property with or have received gifts or money from worth $1,000 or more, or cohabited with for at least thirty days in the past year.

Here are the three qualities that will be most highly considered when deciding who will serve on the new commission:

So while you are with your family and friends over this holiday season, thinking about the future and your place in it, give some thought to this commission. Eye the people at the holiday parties you attend and ask yourself, would he or she make a good commissioner?

And then go to this site:

Here's what to expect if you want to apply.

The application process is online, will be conducted in phases, and is very public (in line with Prop. 11's emphasis on transparency and openness). Applications and interviews will be posted online and the public will have an opportunity to comment on applicants. The first phase includes a form with mostly "yes/no" questions and background information that will help the State Auditor ensure the finalists' pool is politically, geographically and ethnically diverse, as is required by Prop. 11 You can see the questions asked in Phase 1 here:

As of today already more than 2,800 Phase 1 applications have been submitted and 2,300 tentatively deemed as "eligible". You can track the numbers and demographics of applicants online at . The deadline for submitting the Phase 1 application is February 12, 2010.

The state auditor's Applicant Review Panel (made up of auditor's staff members) will review those applications and pick 120 to move on to Phase 2. Those 120 finalists will complete a supplemental application (which is much more extensive and includes essay questions, relevant experience and additional background information), reference letters, an in-person interview (transportation costs will be reimbursed), and completion of the Form 700 (this is the state's conflict of interest reporting form that includes stating recent gifts of travel, investments, property, and other personal financial information; a draft of the 2010 form is available online at ).

You can see the questions asked in the Supplemental Application here:

So, now that you know what to expect from the application process, what can those who get selected for the commission expect?

There are some very helpful documents on the State Auditor's web site, In particular you will find:

The WeDrawTheLines web site also includes an FAQ, press releases, regulations, and other helpful documents.

Last but not least, there is a toll free phone number, (866) 356-5217 people can call with questions. The line will be answered by the Auditor's staff members over the holiday season. Questions can also be sent via email to

One more important thing to know when considering applying: the 14 people selected to serve on this commission are prohibited from engaging in a number of other activities for a period of time following their appointment. Specifically, a commission member shall be ineligible for a period of ten years to hold elective public office at the federal, state, county or city level in California. Commissioners are also ineligible for a period of five years to hold appointive federal, state, or local public office, to serve as paid staff for the Legislature or any individual legislator or to register as a federal, state, or local lobbyist in California.

CVF has much more information about Proposition 11 and California redistricting reform on our web site, at:

This new commission will be an historic opportunity to create political district lines that serve the interests of California voters first and foremost rather than California politicians. So please give it some thought, for yourself or perhaps a family member, co-worker or friend.

Wishing you and yours a fantastic holiday season,

Kim Alexander

Kim Alexander, President & Founder
California Voter Foundation

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

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This page was first published on December 19, 2009 | Last updated on December 23, 2009
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