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The recent redistricting process in San Francisco made it clear that change is needed. We must reform redistricting to respect and fairly represent communities, neighborhoods, and shared interests.
While redistricting happens once a decade, the time for reform is now.
San Franciscans deserve to have the best and fairest elections. It's why LWVSF advocated for a better redistricting process in 2021–2022. And it's why we support reforming redistricting so our next map drawing process will be fair, equitable, transparent, accessible, and community centered. Our goals are to:
The Elections Commission is discussing recommendations for redistricting reform at its regular monthly meetings. It also has convened the Fair, Independent, and Effective Redistricting for Community Engagement Committee, or FIERCE Committee, to focus on this important issue.
Redistricting is the process of redrawing political boundaries to determine how communities are represented in government. Districts are redrawn every 10 years at the local, state, and federal levels in order to adjust for population changes revealed by the U.S. Census.
In San Francisco, we redraw the Board of Supervisors district map. The most recent supervisor redistricting process was in 2021–2022. There are 11 supervisor districts in the city. If you live in San Francisco, you live in a supervisor district — look up your current district.
Redistricting affects political power. In San Francisco, redistricting determines who will appear on your ballot and what parts of the city they will represent. Redistricting can affect your community's ability to elect a supervisor who represents your interests and responds to your needs. By participating in local redistricting, you, your neighbors, and your community can have a voice in San Francisco's democracy.
Under current law, a government body called the Redistricting Task Force leads the local redistricting process.
The San Francisco Charter says the Redistricting Task Force will be convened after Census data is released and the director of the Department of Elections determines that, because of population changes, the city supervisor district map is no longer in compliance with the laws that govern districts. In the 2021–2022 San Francisco redistricting process, because of significant Census delays, an ordinance convened the Redistricting Task Force before Census data was released.
The Redistricting Task Force has nine members. The Elections Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and the Mayor each appoint three members.
The Redistricting Task Force works with government staff and outside consultants to determine how supervisor district lines should be redrawn so the districts comply with various legal requirements. The Redistricting Task Force may make adjustments to district lines based on community input.
The Redistricting Task Force must present the new district map to the Board of Supervisors by April 15 of the year in which the new map will first be used in an election. The Board of Supervisors may not change the map.
This and more is required by San Francisco Charter Section 13.110(d).
The process the city uses to draw its Board of Supervisors district election map every ten years has many flaws.
Among the most significant problems: Local redistricting laws have not been updated in decades and don’t include many best practices that help create fair maps. The Redistricting Task Force, which draws the supervisor district map, is not truly free of political influence because most members are appointed by elected officials — one factor in the lack of public trust in the process. And, local redistricting laws conflict with California laws, making it impossible for San Francisco to benefit from some key parts of the state’s standardized, fair redistricting requirements.
To bring about the kinds of redistricting reform that San Francisco needs, we must update the relevant laws. There are state bills being considered by the California legislature that would substantially improve local redistricting. Whether or not those bills pass, San Francisco must also change its Charter.
Redistricting is vulnerable to gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of the redistricting process to draw district maps that don't represent the community.
Sometimes gerrymandering is done to give an unfair advantage to one political party, group, candidate, or incumbent. Sometimes gerrymandering is done to reduce the voting power of people based on their race, ethnicity, culture, language, sexual orientation, economic status, interest group, or other factors.
Gerrymandering puts political factors ahead of community interests.
A fair map will reflect the diversity of our community. It will be the result of an open, transparent redistricting process with plenty of opportunities for people (like you) to give input. The redistricting process will have a specific timeline, clear steps, and accountability.
A fair map will include substantially equal population in districts, geographic continuity, and protection from diluting the voting power of a racial or linguistic minority. A fair map will also preserve what are called communities of interest and will keep recognized neighborhoods intact.
Learn more about the League of Women Voters positions on redistricting.
If you paid attention to San Francisco's controversial redistricting process that ended in 2022, you won't be surprised that our city is featured in a report analyzing the good, the bad, and the ugly of local redistricting in the state.
Here you'll find news articles, government documents, and more about redistricting reform in San Francisco. We also have a comprehensive archive of the 2021–2022 San Francisco redistricting process. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can't find what you're looking for.
Assembly Bill 1248
Assembly Bill 764
LWVSF does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these articles. They are provided for informational purposes only. A ⭐ indicates LWVSF is included in the article. A 🔹 indicates LWV of California is included.
There are local, state, and federal rules that govern redistricting in San Francisco. California allows some exceptions to its redistricting rules for charter cities such as San Francisco. "Redistricting for Community Empowerment: A Legal How-To Guide" (PDF) by California Common Cause and ACLU is a rich resource on the rules of redistricting.
These are some of the specific rules applicable in San Francisco redistricting:
LWV of California provides information on redistricting efforts within the state and resources for local redistricting efforts.
LWV of the U.S. runs a redistricting program focused on creating fair political maps nationwide.