California redistricting: Ensuring representation of our communities

Working with APALC’s Demographic Research Project, Voting Rights Project staff achieved several important victories during the 2011 California redistricting process, which for the first time was conducted by an independent citizens commission rather than the state legislature.  The commission was charged with redrawing legislative and congressional boundaries to correspond to population shifts reflected in new census data.

APALC anchored a statewide network called the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting (CAPAFR).  APALC and CAPAFR worked to provide testimony and mapping proposals to the new commission with the goal of achieving fair representation for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities across the state.  Because of APALC and CAPAFR’s advocacy, many Asian American and NHPI communities that were fragmented in the 2011 district maps are now united.

For example, Los Angeles Koreatown is now whole at the Assembly, Senate and Congressional levels; Koreatown was previously split across several districts at all three levels of government.  Additionally, the San Jose neighborhood of Berryessa, previously fragmented across four Assembly districts, is kept intact in the commission’s maps.

Notably, the commission’s maps create California’s first state or federal district in which Asian Americans make up a majority of the district’s population eligible to vote – Assembly District 49, located in the west San Gabriel Valley.  APALC argued for the creation of a majority-Asian American district under the federal Voting Rights Act, and the commission’s San Gabriel Valley district is very similar to what APALC proposed.


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