Asians Americans in California are Missing Out on a Once-in-a-Decade Chance to Influence Voting

Asian Americans in California are being urged to apply for a process that will help reflect the population and their communities in future elections more accurately.

Every 10 years, after the federal census, California must redraw the boundaries of its Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts to reflect new population data.

The task falls into the hands of the Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC), a 14-member body formed through an application and selection process carried out by the independent, nonpartisan State Auditor.

“This is important because the districts should have roughly the same number of people in each so that our elected officials represent the same number of people and thus all individuals have fair and equal representation,” says Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs and Quality Assurance of the California State Auditor’s office.

The CRC — which uses census data and “other criteria set out in the law,” including public input to draw the lines — is composed of five Democrats, five Republicans and four “independent” individuals.

In 2010, two years after California voters passed the Voters FIRST Act — which required the establishment of the CRC — four Asian Americans became part of the first commission.

Cynthia Dai, one of the four API members in the 2010 CRC in California

Unfortunately, Asian Americans made up an alarmingly low rate of 6% of total applications for the 2020 CRC as of Friday — and the deadline for submissions is at 5 p.m. on August 19.

“Anyone who applies to be on the commission by August 19, 2019 will have an opportunity and possibly become one of the 14 members who will be redrawing the district lines that will be in place for the next statewide election and will be used for the next ten years,” says Fernández. “This is an opportunity that only comes every ten years and really does shape the future of California’s elections. Individuals on the commission will be making decisions that will impact every community in California and thus, will have a voice — at the table — in the entire process.”

Applications as of August 15, 2019

To be eligible to apply, one (1) must be a registered voter since July 1, 2015, (2) be registered without a, or “independent” of any, political party (decline-to-state or no party preference) or registered with the same political party since July 1, 2015, and (3) must have voted in at least two of the last three statewide general elections.

However, there are some conflicts of interest that would disqualify someone from applying, such contributing or having a bona fide family member contribute $2,500 or more to any congressional, state or local candidate for elective public office in any calendar year.

Interested individuals can learn more and start their initial application at shapecaliforniasfuture.auditor.ca.gov.

“The rest of the process, which includes a supplemental application, is lengthier, but you cannot be a part of the pool unless you complete the initial application, so get your initial application in today!” Fernández said.I encourage you to get involved, apply, and participate in shaping California’s future.”

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