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Remap panel seeks changes in 'misleading' referendum language

August 29, 2011 |  4:33 pm

The citizens commission that drew the new lines for California political districts is accusing critics trying to overturn its state Senate maps of using "misleading and inaccurate information." 

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has asked the state attorney general and the secretary of state to intervene in a dispute over the wording in a referendum drive spearheaded by state Republican leaders. The commission also has asked petition circulators to hold off on gathering signatures until the matter can be resolved.

Republicans are trying to collect at least 504,000 signatures within 90 days to place the state Senate district maps before voters in June. They say the new districts are unfair and will give Democrats a two-thirds majority in the upper house, allowing them to raise taxes.

Attorneys for the redistricting commission complain that the petition drive's summary is misleading because it contends that a successful signature campaign would put the maps on the ballot "and prevent them from taking effect unless approved by voters at the next statewide election." Commission attorneys said "there is no reason to believe that the Senate maps as drawn by the commission will not ultimately go into effect" but would only be "adjusted" to correct any instances of noncompliance the court might find, even if voters reject them. 

The attorneys also dispute referendum leaders' contentions that a successful petition drive would require that new maps be drawn for the June election, while voters decide on the commission maps. The state Supreme Court would have the option of allowing the new districts to be used in June, the commission attorneys argue.

Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of the California Republican Party, disagreed with those statements and said the commission has overstepped its authority in seeking attorney general intervention in the first place.

"They've gone beyond their job -- which was to draw lines -- to become advocates, to cover for the poor work they've done," Del Beccaro said.

-- Jean Merl