Do district boundary lines really make a difference?

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is moving ahead with plans to redraw the boundary lines for the five districts. Fourteen public meetings were held with only 22 individual speakers. San Diego County consists of nearly 3.1 million people, so each district represents about 619,000 people. The current group of supervisors have served together since 1995, they are all white and are Republicans. San Diego County’s chairman of the Democratic Party, Jess Durfee, stated, “Remapping is moot in this county because five Republicans are going to draw the districts the way they want despite any public input. Everyone realizes that their input is a waste of their breath.”

The proposed new boundaries divide the districts up virtually the same as they are now in relationship of ethnic makeup except for District 1, which shows a gain (2.4%) in the Hispanic population to 51.7%. The Voting Rights Act requires at least one district in which communities of color and language minorities make up the majority of the citizen voting age population, which District 1 fulfills. Three out of the five districts have a majority of registered Republicans in their voting makeup, but all districts contain enough Independent/Other to skew an election one way or another. The next vote on a final map is scheduled for July 12. While the majority of the population doesn’t seem to care about the new boundary lines, now that the vote is getting close, minority community groups have begun to raise their voices in protest that the district boundaries still don’t give any challengers much of a chance. Is that a bad thing? Longtime relationships obviously come into play, but if the supervisor is doing a bad job, then the community needs to rise up and vote him or her out. If the motive for these groups is to ensure that the best candidate is elected to represent the community, then the boundary lines shouldn’t make a difference.

Jeff Mitchell




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