The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors held their fourth and final public hearing on county redistricting this week, with the Board adopting a proposed draft map of district boundaries in Calaveras County. The public hearing was held Tuesday morning in the Board of Supervisors Chambers and was also available for viewing online through the county’s meeting portal.

The newly revised map, accepted in a 5-0 vote, will inform supervisorial lines for all five of Calaveras County’s districts for the next 10 years. Per California election section 21501, redistricting must be completed no later than Dec. 15 of 2021.

The county has held several informational meetings, public workshops, and public hearings regarding the process, beginning in May of this year with the launch of the online Community Mapping Tool. Community members were encouraged to submit comments at the meetings, online, or by mail. The board of supervisors made its decisions regarding district lines by following state and federal law requirements, utilizing U.S. Census data, and reviewing suggestions and comments put forth by the public. 

According to the County’s website on redistricting, criteria used in the decision-making process include maintaining “geographically contiguous” boundaries (not separated by any natural or manmade barriers, such as a highway or body of water.) Additionally, the county will strive to minimize division of the “geographic integrity of any local neighborhood or local Community of Interest” as much as possible. The county is also required to respect the “geographic integrity of a city or census-designated place,” make boundaries easily identifiable by utilizing natural or artificial barriers, “encourage geographical compactness,” and “not adopt supervisorial district boundaries for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against a political party.”

Another primary focus is on equitable distribution of the population throughout the county’s districts, which is why census data must be utilized. Last year’s census data determined that Calaveras County has a population of 45,292, so the even distribution of the population would mean each district should have 9,058 residents. According to presentations given by County Clerk Recorder and Registrar of Voters Rebecca Turner at earlier meetings in September, there is an allowance for deviation of up to 5%, giving districts a compliance range of 8,606 to 9,510 residents.

The new district mapping, however, gives some populations, like District 3, which includes Arnold, Murphys, and Vallecito, a greater lead of up to 401 more residents than the desired number, and others like District 2 and 5 are under by almost 300 residents, according to the draft map created by the County. 

The mapping tool allows community members to suggest Communities of Interest (COI) for consideration. A community of interest is defined as a “population that shares common social or economic interests that should be included within a single supervisorial district for purposes of its effective and fair representation,” according to a presentation A COI can be grouped on the basis of political, geographic, socio-economic, and cultural factors. These can include religious and cultural practices, economic and employment factors, or factors like infrastructure, transportation, school districts, and access to public services. This is especially important for many of our rural communities, where scattered towns and unincorporated areas often get grouped together, despite vastly different economies, political interests, and needs. In order to provide an avenue for fair representation across districts, community members can suggest changes or additions to district mapping.

While anyone living in Calaveras County can submit their proposed COI, it is up to the board of supervisors to determine if it can be accommodated during the redistricting process. Factors influencing the board’s decision can be any of those listed above, like legal requirements and equal distribution of population, as well as compliance with the Voting Rights Act and avoiding (intentional or unintentional) discriminatory changes.

The Community of Interest Mapping Tool currently reflects nine submissions, with proposed changes to district boundaries around Copperopolis, San Andreas, Vallecito, Rancho Calaveras/Jenny Lind, Sheep Ranch, Mountain Ranch, and Vallecito. 

Tuesday the Board of Supervisors voted to accept the current draft map, which can be viewed on the county’s dedicated redistricting website.

For more information on redistricting, visit the Calaveras County website at https://elections.calaverasgov.us/Redistricting, call (833) 536-8683 or (209) 754-6376 or email redistricting@co.calaveras.ca.us. Public comments may be submitted by email, or mailed to: County Registrar of Voters Office, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas, CA 95249

This article was updated from a previous version.

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Marie-Elena studied creative writing, art, and photography at University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a BA in Studio Art -Visual Media. She moved to California from Nebraska in 2019 and is happy to call Calaveras County her home.

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