California now has an initiative on the ballot this November that is historic. The proposal is to have legislative districts drawn by three non-partisan retired judges and to do this starting in January 2006. Currently legislators draw their own districts and, with computer programs in each legislator's hands, they get the exact district they want. Right now legislators choose their voters, not the other way around.
The initiative will have modest impact in spite of the hysteria we are starting to hear from current legislators. The main impact of the initiative is to clean up the democratic process, a very important act at a time when we are promoting democracy overseas with the lives of our citizens.
I consider this initiative so important that I am campaigning for it. I sent out letters to all the major California newspapers and an op-ed piece which I also put online. I will start phoning radio stations next week.
I expect to have an impact on the election by working hard right now. I did research on special elections four decades ago described in an earlier blog. Few voters turn out for a special election and those voters are very well informed. They make up their minds almost at the time the ballot issues are announced. In the current case, it pays to work early.
Polls will be inaccurate on special election issues that are close because it is hard to identify the few people who will really vote.