A Republican-backed group can start collecting signatures to put a referendum on the June 2012 ballot challenging new boundaries for State Senate districts that were recently redrawn by a citizens' committee, officials said.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced late Friday that ballot measure proponent Julie Vandermost, an Orange County businesswoman, and her supporters can start collecting the 504,760 signatures of registered voters needed to qualify the measure for the next statewide ballot. Vandermost and the GOP-supported Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting (FAIR) are leading the effort to overturn the new State Senate districts.
The California Citizens Redistricting Committee on Aug. 15 certified the new State Senate maps, along with new boundaries for the state's Congressional districts, state Assembly districts and Board of Equalization districts.
Proponents of the ballot measure have until Nov. 13, 2011, or 90 days from the date they were certified, to submit petition signatures to county election officials.
Republicans previously stated their intention to challenge the state Senate redistricting because it threatens several GOP incumbents and could give Democrats the two-thirds majority needed to pass key legislation. The referendum petition, if signed by enough voters, would put the revised State Senate boundaries on the June 12 ballot and prevent them from being implemented unless approved by voters. It also would require court-appointed officials to set interim boundaries for use in the next statewide election.
An independent citizens commission redrew the district boundaries for the first time in California history. The commission was created after voters in November 2008 passed Proposition 11, the Voters First Act. The commission was composed of 14 members from various ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations and included five Democrats, five Republicans and four who decline to state a party preference.