2017 Winner
State of California
March 30, 2018

For decades, the California state and congressional districts were gerrymandered districts created by either a Democratic- or Republican-controlled legislative body. This process allowed legislators to choose their voters and virtually guarantee re-election, rigging outcomes and preventing voters from having a true voice in the selection of their representatives. Years of effort to work with partisan legislative bodies to prevent gerrymandering were unsuccessful. In 2008, Common Cause, The Irvine Foundation, and other nonprofit civic organizations launched the Voters First Act, a public initiative to take the drawing of district boundaries away from the state legislature and to give it to a 14-member citizen commission. California voters approved the ballot measure in the general elections and the Commission became an independent division of the State Government. The Commission, incorporating an unprecedented level of public involvement and transparency, completed the 2011 redistricting and its maps were used in the 2012 California general elections. Presently, the Commission is preparing the foundation work for the next Commission, who will be selected in 2020, to help smooth the process and to ensure future underserved communities and communities of interest are actively engaged in the democratic process.