Supervisor Districts – It’s Game Time !




The mechanics of government often fly under the radar screen of most voters because they are tedious, boring and time-consuming. Drawing new boundaries for the five Supervisors in Orange County is one such exercise. However, upon close examination there is a lot of intrigue and paranoia that would make for a good movie script.

The California Elections Code (Sections 21500-21506) requires the Supervisors to address any significant imbalance in the number of residents in Orange County by adjusting the boundaries of the five Supervisor Districts in the county so that the population of each is about the same. The law requires this redistricting be accomplished by November 1 of the year following the census. If it is not done by then a County Commission chaired by the District Attorney must do it by December 31.

Redistricting opens the door to people finding that the Supervisor who has been their Supervisor no longer is – a boundary shift has moved them to a different Supervisor.  It opens another door too – you guessed it – gerrymandering. Taken to the extreme, some people believe that a currently sitting Supervisor preparing to run for re-election could find that his or her colleagues have approved new District boundaries that results in his/her home no longer being in the District they represent.

Even more exciting is the attention the Supervisors usually give during this process to where potential political foes live. If a Supervisor, or a political party favoring one future candidate over another, sees a potential candidate for a Supervisor office as someone they do not want to have a chance, simply get the supervisorial boundary drawn to put that person’s residence in a different Supervisorial district. As we have seen, living outside a Supervisorial district does not make it impossible to find a way to run for that office anyway, but it sure is clumsy and fraught with fraud potential when that happens.

Another technique that can be used to the advantage of disadvantage of a current or potential Supervisorial office holder is to focus a District on a particular ethnic or cultural group. Or, if the desire is to reduce the perceived voting clout of any such group, to split it among two or more Districts.

There are to be public meetings of the Redistricting Committee the Supervisors have established to come up with a new redistricting plan. According to the County’s web site, the committee will meet at 2 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors hearing room, 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd., 10 Civic Center Plaza in Santa Ana on the second Thursday of each month through July 14. The web site states that one of the purposes of the Committee is to consider public input.

So with the launching of the redistricting process expect the incumbents, both major political parties, and potential future candidates and other “special interests” to try to influence the process. Observers may even have the chance to watch dirty tricks in the making!

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.