Eliminating Gerrymandering in Santa Barbara County

“The Problem”

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral districts to favor one political party over another. The word was used for the first time in March 1812 in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under Governor Elbridge Gerry, who redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a mythological salamander.

The manipulation of electoral districts by whichever party is in power provides an artificial “bundling of votes,” ensuring incumbents’ re-election and often undermines civil rights.

Reason in Government has recently taken up the non-partisan and progressive cause of eliminating gerrymandering in Santa Barbara County – an issue that has united Californians of all political backgrounds (e.g. Common Cause, ACLU, League of Women Voters, NAACP, Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, California Police Chiefs Association among many) and led to historical political reforms at the State level.

Given the strong tradition of political innovation in Santa Barbara County and the fact that Senate Bill 1108 (2016), which authorized counties to establish binding independent redistricting commissions to eliminate gerrymandering in supervisorial districts, was supported by Senator Hannah Beth Jackson and then-Assemblyman, now 1st District Supervisor Das Williams, we believed our County would embrace the opportunity to serve as a leader in the movement to eliminate gerrymandering at the local government level.

We therefore modeled an initiative on Proposition 11 (2008) and Senate Bill 1108, drawing on the specific and relevant language from each to create a truly independent commission that would serve the interests of all voters across the County.

“The Solution”

Reason in Government has taken action that will ensure the voters have a chance to eliminate Gerrymandering in County elections when they go to the polls in November 2018.

Initiative Timeline:
Initiative Crafted

Reason in Government crafts our redistricting initiative “Santa Barbara residents for independent redistricting commission.”

Initiative Filed

Reason in government files the initiative and notice of intent to circulate the petition with the registrar of voters, Santa Barbara county.

Councel Approves

Santa Barbara county counsel approves initiative language.

Notice Published

Reason in government publishes notice of intention and ballot title and summary in Santa Maria Times.

Petition Filed

Reason in government files proof of publication and two blank copies of petition with Santa Barbara county elections board.

Petition Circulated

Reason in government begins circulating the initiative language and petition for county residents’ signatures of support.

Signatures Delivered

Reason in government delivers 16,448 signatures of support to the registrar of voters, Santa Barbara county.

Signatures Certified

Santa Barbara registrar of voters determines the required number of county resident signatures and awards a certificate of sufficiency, which will be certified at the July 3 board of supervisors meeting.

Initiative Qualified

Reason in Government announces its initiative has qualified for the ballot.

Das Williams Publishes Rival Draft

In response to our initiative, supervisor Das Williams publishes a rival draft initiative with provisions that still allow for the possibility of gerrymandering.

Comments on Williams Draft Submitted

Reason in government submits comments on Williams’ draft ordinance.

Petition Certified

Santa Barbara board of supervisors certifies reason in government petition. The board revises the Williams draft language, incorporating several reason in government comments, and unanimously endorses the position that supervisorial districts should be drawn by a fair, transparent and independent redistricting commission. 5th district supervisor Lavagnino acknowledges reason in government is responsible, regardless of initiatives, for independent redistricting in Santa Barbara county. Read More »