Voters have a difficult choice Tuesday when they decide whether to support a statewide ballot proposition on redistricting.
The dilemma boils down to this: Is partial reform good enough or should citizens hold out for something better?
Here's the exact wording of Proposition 1 so you can absorb the proposal ahead of time and think your decision over:
"Revising State’s Redistricting Procedure: The proposed amendment to sections 4 and 5 and addition of new section 5b to Article 3 of the State Constitution revises the redistricting procedure for state legislative and congressional districts.
"The proposed amendment establishes a redistricting commission every 10 years beginning in 2020, with two members appointed by each of the four legislative leaders and two members selected by the eight legislative appointees; prohibits legislators and other elected officials from serving as commissioners; establishes principles to be used in creating districts; requires the commission to hold public hearings on proposed redistricting plans; subjects the commission’s redistricting plan to legislative enactment; provides that the legislature may only amend the redistricting plan according to the established principles if the commission’s plan is rejected twice by the legislature; provides for expedited court review of a challenged redistricting plan; and provides for funding and bipartisan staff to work for the commission.
"Shall the proposed amendment be approved?"
Just about everyone would agree that the redistricting process needs to be changed.
As it is now, the State Legislature has authority over drawing election-district lines. Four of the six members of the commission that actually drafts the lines are legislators, and the legislature then has to approve the plan.
That has resulted in manipulation of the boundaries, known as gerrymandering, leading to most incumbents being returned to office.
The ballot proposal would expand the redistricting commission to 10 non-legislative members.
Eight would be appointed by the four legislative leaders, majority and minority, and two by the original eight. They can't have been enrolled in either of the two major parties in the past five years.
The members cannot have served on the State Legislature for the previous three years and can't be elected officials or members of Congress or their spouses. They can't be from the legislators' staff or be lobbyists, state officers or employees or party chairs.
All that seems like a step in the right direction.
But there are drawbacks. The new redistricting commission wouldn't start until 2020, for one thing, and it is still state legislators making the appointments.
But the biggest concern is that the commission's plan still must ultimately be approved by the State Legislature.
In the eyes of critics — and there are many — that means the commission has no real power. Proponents, though, feel statutory guidelines will prevent too much meddling by legislators.
If you think that limited redistricting reform is the best that can be achieved, vote for Proposal 1.
If you want to hold out for less-flawed reform, vote "No."