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Republicans take first step toward overturning new Senate districts

A group of Republicans has taken the first step toward putting a referendum on the ballot that they hope will lead to the overturning of new Senate districts drawn by a state panel.

Republican attorney Charles Bell asked the state attorney general in writing to prepare the title and summary of the referendum so that a petition drive can begin to qualify the measure for the ballot. The campaign needs to collect more than 504,000 signatures in 90 days.

"The belief is that at least a number of the districts were not drawn in accordance with the [federal] Voting Rights Act and some provisions of the state Constitution concerning compactness and avoiding county splits," said Bell, who is an attorney for the California Republican Party and the new campaign committee Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting.

Bell said Wednesday he submitted the request on behalf of the campaign committee, which includes Orange County businesswoman Julie Vandermost. The referendum drive is being supported by the state party as well as the Senate Republican Caucus.

Among the problems cited by Bell: San Bernardino and Sacramento counties are each split between six senate districts when the former could fit into three and the latter into two.

-- Patrick McGreevy

 
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