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LA County Starts To Set Up Its First Redistricting Commission Today

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A sign draws voters into an L.A. County voting center. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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For the first time, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will not decide how the county's voting districts should be drawn. Instead, that will be in the hands of an independent citizens' redistricting commission; the county auditor-controller is set to pick the panel's first eight members today.

A recent state law, Senate Bill 958, required L.A. County to form the commission, which will redraw county districts next year based on 2020 Census data when it becomes available.

The bill's backers point to a history of discrimination against non-white voters, like in the 1980s, when the county board attempted to diminish Latino voters' power by dividing up their communities on district maps.

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The county challenged the state bill in court and lost. In that case, lawyers defending SB 958 highlighted the exceptional size and diversity of L.A. County: with more than 10 million residents, five politicians oversee a jurisdiction bigger than most U.S. states.

Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt, who offered the law's proponents legal advice, hopes to see the commissioners draw more competitive districts.

“Voters should expect a fairer process for deciding where the district lines should fall,” Levitt said. “They have more than their own electoral fortune in mind.”

Tighter races could mean supervisors would pay more attention to their constituents' needs, he said.

The first eight commissioners are set to be drawn via lottery from a group of finalists at today's Board of Supervisors meeting. The full commission is expected to be selected by the end of the year.

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