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Did California just take a big step toward political sanity?

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"The draft maps will make it harder for Latino voices to be heard in California politics in proportion to their numbers,” he says, adding that his organization could consider litigation under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlaws discriminatory voting practices.

The 14-member commission – five Democrats, five Republicans, and four decline-to-states – was created by a 2008 ballot initiative, Proposition 11, which deprived state legislators of authority to draw their own political districts. In 2011, Proposition 20 expanded the commission's authority to include redrawing congressional districts, too.

The process now moves to two weeks of public comment before a final vote, which will pave the way for the maps' use in next year’s statewide elections. By federal law, congressional apportionment needs to be recalculated every 10 years according to new US Census figures.

The reviews are mostly positive.

“They conducted themselves with honor and integrity and people are uniformly impressed,” says Zabrae Valentine, deputy director of California Forward, a nonpartisan public interest reform group. She and others say that although the outcome is not perfect, it is a huge improvement.

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