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Democracy Central - Northern California's Redistricting Center

Sacramento Public Library

Innovation Leader: Rebecca Higgerson, Central Library Manager, rhiggerson@saclibrary.org

Problem Statement

With the passage of Proposition 11 in November 2008, Californians voted to shift responsibility for redistricting from lawmakers to an independent commission of citizens. Redistricting, a once-a-decade process of redrawing voting district boundaries, can have a significant effect on political power in the state. Public engagement is essential, both in selecting the 14 citizen commissioners as well drawing the new legislative maps. To encourage the broadest possible participation, particularly among underrepresented minority groups, the James Irvine Foundation is supporting California’s redistricting efforts through a grant administered by the Redistricting Group at UC Berkeley Law School. To that end, partners to house redistricting sites needed to be found.

Innovation

To further these efforts and to position the public library as a center for political and civic engagement, Sacramento Public Library’s Central Library offered to serve as the Redistricting Assistance Site for Northern California (one of six in the entire state) for the following reasons: our evening and weekend public hours; Internet connectivity; 500 square feet of secure office space; nonpartisan environment welcoming to individuals and groups of all socio-economic levels and political persuasions; ADA accessibility and because the mission of the library is to support and encourage civic engagement. The purpose of the Site is to encourage participation in the state-wide redistricting process by individuals and groups. According to the agreement with UC Berkeley Law School, “These sites will be available for groups that work regionally or statewide to engage local jurisdictions in the redistricting process, to connect them to available resources, and to provide a space in which they can engage their constituencies to participate. The sites will also be drop-in centers for anyone who would like to have access to redistricting data and software.”

Progress

Central Library’s Redistricting Assistance Site hosts interactive, educational workshops for the express purpose of educating Californians on how the redistricting process works, how to access the date and how to effectively communicate valuable information about their community. In addition participants see democracy’s best promise, the public library, in action.