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Guaranteed-clean redistricting

July 02, 2007

Re "Map quest," Opinion, June 24

Douglas Johnson's thoughts on redistricting are interesting, but he fails to mention the one idea that would remove politics from the equation altogether. That is to use ZIP Codes. They work very well for the distribution of mail and other services and are completely free of the bias inherent in any other system. It is about time voting districts be drawn up without regard to the controlling demands of the two main parties. Anything else makes a mockery of fair elections.




Johnson points out how much more competitive political races have been in Arizona than in California since Arizona instituted redistricting reform. But that's only part of the story, because Arizona also instituted "clean money" public financing of campaigns for all its state offices in 2000. Incumbents in California almost always overwhelm their opponents with money they've raised from special interests. Arizona's election system, on the other hand, provides matching funds when participating candidates are outspent, resulting in a level playing field. This explains why more legislative seats changed hands in Arizona in 2006 as much as redistricting does.

The California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act (AB 583) would set up a similar "clean money" system in California. If the legislators want to assure the public that campaigns are competitive in exchange for loosening term limits, they should pass it along with redistricting reform.



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