BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — California’s independent redistricting committee still has no maps solidified and a very fast approaching deadline. This week, it has been hearing public input and the Central Valley has been a hotly contested region.
In the process of redrawing California’s congressional and state legislative boundaries, the 14 members of the Citizen’s Redistricting Committee (CRC) are held to six very specific guidelines. But its one criteria that seems to garner the most attention.
“We are preserving and respecting the voting rights act districts to ensure that the minorities do have a chance to elect representatives of their choice,” CRC commissioner Alicia Fernández said.
A decades-old law, the Voting Rights Act seeks to protect democratic process from racial discrimination. Fernández said that’s why you see big differences in demographics from one Central Valley district to another. For instance, the proposed district likely to be represented by Kevin McCarthy is overwhelmingly white. The two districts sharing its boarder are majority Latino.
Republican Political Analyst Cathy Abernathy said that is why Kern County is broken up and put in districts with Fresno. “If you look at these lines, you probably think wow that looks like a gerrymander,” she said. “And they are supposed to be drawn by a commission and be fair.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly this is an issue that seems to divide straight down the political aisle.
“The Central Valley is diversifying. So the lines are just getting drawn in order to give people accurate representation,” Democratic Political Analyst Neel Sannappa said.
The Dolores Huerta Foundation, a group that has been active in all levels of Central Valley redistricting, said that is reflected in the commission’s latest maps.
“It is definitely the case that draft maps at the state level align a whole lot more with what census data states which is that 11 Central Valley counties have over 50% constitutionally protected classes.” Lori Pesante, Director of Civil Engagement and Government Relations at the Dolores Huerta Foundation, said.