Published: 17 December 2011 06:33 PM

SACRAMENTO — More than 230 years since the American Revolution, taxation without representation survives in the California State Senate.

Under new lines scheduled to take effect next year, millions of Californians will lack a senator while millions of others will be represented by two senators in 2013 and 2014.

And it’s totally legal.

Because of a quirk in the way state Senate districts are created, some communities will be without a senator’s representation for a while. Others will have “double coverage.” Parts of California that may temporarily lose representation in the State Senate are shown in red. Areas that could be represented by two senators are shown in green. Opponents of the new Senate plan are trying to qualify a 2012 ballot referendum to overturn the map.

The phenomenon stems from the Senate’s system of staggered elections and how the new districts were numbered. A huge swath of Riverside County is affected, including most of the Coachella Valley and all of Lake Elsinore. Parts of San Bernardino County also stand to lose a senator for two years.

“They’re basically depriving you of your vote. I don’t believe I should have to wait another two years,” said Jack B. Berg, 79, of Lake Elsinore.

In all, 3.97 million Californians would go without representation in the Senate for two years, according to an analysis by The Press-Enterprise and the Orange County Register. Another 3.9 million residents could be represented by two senators.

Since the 1970s, millions of Californians have temporarily lost Senate representation every decade. But the phenomenon often passes with little notice because it’s complex and obscure, and because the courts have ruled it’s not in violation of anyone’s rights. It’s just a byproduct of redistricting and the Senate’s election schedule.

“It happens every time we redistrict,” said Tony Quinn, a former GOP redistricting staffer. “You can’t avoid it.”

Experts say it’s not a big deal. If you have a problem with the government, you can still turn to your representation in the Assembly, U.S. Congress or local government, said UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser.

“It evens out because we have so many ways to get our voices heard in California,” he said.

Republicans have filed a suit challenging the new Senate districts. It’s unclear whether the new or old districts will be used in next year’s election, or whether judges will draw a third set of maps to use while the case unfolds.

Why voters are losing a senator in 2013-14


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