Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
October 27, 2011

A Republican-backed coalition that failed to persuade the California Supreme Court to kill the state’s newly drawn Senate maps is now asking the federal government to reject the lines as a dilution of Latino voting power.

Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting – leaders of a separate referendum drive against the state Senate maps — has filed arguments with the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the legality of the new boundary lines, attorney Charles H. Bell Jr. said.

Stan Forbes, chairman of the state’s 14-member California Citizens Commission, countered today that he is confident the Senate districts will be given thumbs-up by federal officials.

“We were very careful in meeting (requirements), we were very careful in creating the districts, and everything we did was vetted by our Voting Rights Act attorneys,” Forbes said.

Republican officials have expressed concern since their adoption in August that the new Senate districts favor Democrats and could give that party a two-thirds majority in the upper house, the margin needed to raise taxes or fees.

The federal government is required to monitor redistricting in four California counties — Yuba, Monterey, Kings and Merced — to ensure that minority voting power be preserved.

The 11-page challenge filed by Bell notes that redistricting lowered from six to five the number of Senate districts in which Latinos comprise 50 percent or more of the voting age population.

The complaint focuses on Senate districts that were drawn in Monterey and Merced counties by California’s redistricting commission, which was created by voter passage of a 2008 ballot measure to replace lawmakers in drawing legislative and congressional maps.

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