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Redistricting, Outreach and Public Policy

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By: Dr. John E. Warren

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, America has recently completed the 2020 Census which has to be taken every 10 years. Since 1790, its purpose has been to determine representation in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate. The reason being that the number of seats in the U.S. Congress is fixed at 435 and the seats in the Senate allocate two senators for each state, regardless of population.

Redistricting means that electoral districts in each state should have equal numbers, so that representation is proportional to the number of people in the state.

Clearly, such a process as mandated by the U.S. Constitution is meant to involve all the people covered by the Census count and people living in the areas being counted. These elements then require outreach to ensure the inclusion of all people. This legal obligation then becomes a matter of “Public Policy”, not one of selective inclusion of portions of the population. This is why the Census uses the language of “communities of inclusion” or “COI”.

This inclusion of the people carries with it “public comment” which is the opportunity for the people to comment on that which is being proposed by elements or agencies of the government that have been given “delegated authority”. Those who carry out delegated duties are limited to actions under their delegated authority. This is because they are not elected themselves by the people who elect the legislators.

Following the logic and the California Constitution, as well as Federal Statutes, “outreach” in redefining the electoral districts at the State, County and local levels has not been inclusive of the people of California, but rather a hand-picked few purporting to be “representatives of the people”. California Statutes require “newspapers of general circulation” as instruments of public notice or “outreach”. This has not been done. Rather, a decision has been made that social media and the internet is sufficient to substitute for the legal requirements. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Now that Redistricting Commissions at the State, County, and local levels have been made aware of their failure to follow the law, the only issue is will they do anything to correct the problem in the time remaining. After maps are drawn and submitted it will be too late to make changes.

Something to think about.

 

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