Vote 2K Coalition
44 Summerfield St.
(Sacramento) An initiative that would ban gerrymandering in California has been issued a revised title and summary by the State Attorney General's office. "Fair Vote 2K" would automate the entire districting process, cutting out legislators and judicial councils from determining the borders of electoral districts after the November 2000 general election.
After posting an erroneous summary to initiative proponents, Supervising Deputy AG Andrea Hoch concluded that a revision would "more accurately reflect(s) the language contained in the measure." According to AG office staff, this is the first time that an initiative summary has been revised to correct errors. Monday's posting starts the 150-day signature collection period for the proposition, which would create voting districts based purely on compactness and equal population. The proposal specifically prohibits the Secretary of State from using party registration, voting history, race, sex or national origin in determining where the lines will be drawn.
William Westmiller, author of the novel plan, says "It's time to start a new millennium with a computerized system that treats every voter fairly." The plan would be fully automated, with a computer program that Westmiller says could be run on any home PC. "There's no sense in letting political incumbents pick their own voters for their own benefit," says Westmiller. Fair Vote 2K takes all the data directly from the 2000 census and draws the district
lines within a few hours. Gerrymandering, the practice of drawing district lines to create safe seats and reelect incumbents, would no longer be allowed in California.
Although the Fair Vote 2K Coalition supporting the measure is funded by a small group of multi-partisan enthusiasts, Westmiller says several initiative power brokers have expressed interest in the plan. "What makes this unique is that it avoids the judicial tribunals that have been defeated by voters over the past two decades," he says. Another plan that would have handed the job to Special Masters of the Supreme Court, Proposition 24, was recently stricken from the March primary ballot. The "Costa/Thomas" proposal has been resubmitted to the Attorney General, but Westmiller says the effort will lose almost half of the allowed circulation time and may not qualify in time for the November election.
Westmiller's program starts in the upper northwest corner of the state and adds the closest census tracts until the average population is accumulated. It proceeds through the remainder of the state, creating the most compact districts possible, with population variances limited to one percent of the average district.
If the Westmiller or Costa plans fail to make it to the ballot or are voted down, the legislature and Governor -- currently controlled by Democrats -- could draw the district lines to their own liking. "It happens that Democrats are in control this time," says William, "but the tables could be turned after November. This is a good government plan that gives no one an advantage."
Westmiller is State Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, but has been an officer of Libertarian and Democratic Party organizations in the past. Two years ago, he was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 24th Congressional District. "I understand the desire to grasp political power and take every advantage," adds Westmiller, "but sometimes it's necessary to just be fair to the voters. This is the opportunity."
The Fair Vote 2K Initiative has until May 25, 2000 to obtain the required 672,000 signatures for a Constitutional Amendment. The text of the proposal, as well as legal commentary and technical details of the plan, is on the FV2K Coalition website
Legislative Council Contact
Lara Bierman (916) 445-4169
Send request to email or snail mail address above.
Free email updates are available on request to William@westmiller.com.
Free printed newsletters may be requested on-line or by writing to "FV2K Coalition"
Initiative Copy (2 pages)
Op-Ed Commentary (2 pages)