Op-ed: Why it’s important to vote on Measure S

This November, we will vote on Measure S, which considers whether to approve our new redistricting map. It’s very important to vote on Measure S to preserve your right to “one person, one vote.” It’s also a vote to make government work for you.

What is Measure S?

“Redistricting” is the process of redrawing our Council districts to balance the populations in each. Federal law requires it to happen every 10 years. In December 2013, a supermajority of the Berkeley City Council approved a new redistricting map.

Now, Measure S gives voters the chance to approve the map that has already been passed by the City Council and affirmed by the courts. Our map adheres to all local, state, and federal criteria for redistricting, was drawn by Berkeley citizens, and was chosen through a public and transparent process.

What will happen if Measure S does not pass?

If this measure does not pass, Berkeley would have to restart its redistricting process from the very beginning.

If Measure S does not pass, our district lines would be 12 years out of date, and the population deviation across districts would be double what the California Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional. (The CA Supreme Court has ruled 16% or more unconstitutional. Our deviation would be 27.8% if Measure S fails.)

It would also mean that Berkeley would have to spend additional months and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to re-do redistricting for the third time in just four years. 

Why vote yes on Measure S?

This redistricting map was chosen through a public and transparent process set up by Measure R in 2012, which passed citywide with 66% support. The City Council considered 7 maps drawn by Berkeley residents. The City Council, with the help of the League of Women Voters and UC Berkeley’s ASUC, held 17 community forums and public hearings to allow citizens to review and comment on map proposals. In the end, the Council adopted a map drawn by Berkeley citizens.

Our map meets all the criteria in the Berkeley City Charter: populations are rebalanced across all districts, district boundaries are compact and easy to understand, communities of interest are protected, and no incumbent has been drawn out of his/her district. This map meets all federal, state, and local rules for redistricting. This map is the only map whose use has been affirmed by the courts.

Measure S is supported by Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, Mayor Tom Bates, a majority of Berkeley City Council, the Alameda County Democratic Party, and the Berkeley Democratic Club.

Learn more at www.YesOnBerkeleyMeasureS.com. You can also see the redistricting map at www.YesOnBerkeleyMeasureS.com/map/.

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Kristin Hunziker is a law student at Berkeley Law School and the founder of the Berkeley Student District Campaign. She serves as the Berkeley Graduate Assembly’s City Affairs Director and formerly worked as a Legislative Aide for Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak.