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Are California Elections Rigged?

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On June 3rd, California went to the polls, voting on representatives and various bits of legislation, most notably Props 98 and 99. It was a real race for those of those measures, both had real potential for real change, whether it was for the better or worse. But voters also voted for Congressmen such Howard Berman and Henry Waxman. The choices were simple (because choice was not a choice other than not voting) and there was hardly a mention of their campaigns in the news. Welcome to gerrymandering, the practice of drawing districts in favor of one voter base, and California has ranked the 9th worst state in the nation, according to one non-profit's report [pdf]. The LA Times breaks it down:

Studying the November 2006 elections, Dunkelman found that the average margin of victory in California congressional contests was 43%. That ranked ninth-biggest -- or worst, from a competitive standpoint -- in the nation. Figuring the average turnout in competitive races nationwide -- those with victory margins under 10% -- and applying it to all contests, the researcher calculated that gerrymandering suppressed 3.1 million potential votes in California. The vote total was about 8.9 million, or roughly 35% fewer than what might have been. [LA Times]

In November, Californians could be voting on a measure that would put drawing state districts into the hands of an independent citizens commission rather than the politicians who run those very same districts,
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according to the Times' Capitol Journal, George Skelton. The November election will also carry 80 assembly races throughout the state and six of them are only expected to be actually competitive. And 1 out of 20 state senate and 1 out of 53 congressional contests are likely to be news worthy of attention due to any sort of drama in a race.