In the first decade of the 21st century, California has made several good moves towards rebalancing the electoral landscape. In 2008, California’s voters approved a change to the state constitution which removed redistricting from the hands of the legislature for the state Senate, Assembly into the hands of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC), and Board of Equalization. In 2010, the voters approved a ballot proposition adding US Congressional redistricting to the duties of the CCRC. The CCRC ensures at least against bizarrely gerrymandered districts for ones that maintain some sort of geographic and demographic integrity. These propositions were a good start to recalibrating population representation.
Also, in 2010, voters approved a legislative proposition which changed the primary system to an open one with all office seekers regardless of party affiliation listed for all voters regardless of party affiliation. Prior to this change one had to be a declared member of a party in order to vote for partisan offices unless the parties permitted undeclared affiliation voters to choose the party’s ballot. The proposition moved the two primary candidates with the most votes to the general election. In and of itself, this change is not currently aiding much in the reformation of population representation.
Currently, the population of California is estimated to be more than 38 million. These 38 million peoples are supposedly ably represented by just 80 members in the Assembly and 40 in the Senate giving respective population to representative ratios of 480,000:1 and 960,000:1. Please explain to me how in any reality 1 person can accurately convey the will of a half million or nearly a million persons in any meaningful way. We should modify our constitution to make counties the basic outline of state representative districts, and we should also set minimum and maximum population sizes for the purpose of determining the number of legislative districts, see New Hampshire for a sense of what I am writing about. New Hampshire has 400 members in its House of Representatives representing approximately 1.3 million persons. Think about that, it’s a ratio of 3300 persons to 1 representative. There’s a reasonable chance that a voter in New Hampshire is at least acquainted his or her representative unlike the typical Californian.
In addition to the already in place reforms, and the idea of decreasing the population to representative ratio, let us consider another idea that is often, like the redistricting commission, touted as a panacea for fixing our electoral messes: ranked or proportional voting system. In reality, these are two different methodologies but both have the same goal: to increase minority representation and by minority I don’t mean ethnic exclusively. I haven’t sufficiently studied these proposition to have a meaningful opinion about their efficacy, other than to say that like redistricting their impact will be minimal without addressing the issue of population representation ratios.