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Referendum to Challenge Senate Redistricting Plan Qualifies for Ballot

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has certified the referendum for the November general election ballot, according to her office.

A referendum seeking to overturn has qualified for the November ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Friday.

Valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters—5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election—were needed to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

Major financial support for the signature-gathering drive came from the California Republican Party and the re-election campaign of Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel.

"As we anticipated, over 700,000 Californians have overcome great odds and succeeded in placing the gerrymandered state Senate redistricting plan on the November ballot," said Dave Gilliard, a consultant with Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting, the sponsor of the referendum drive. "FAIR will be asking voters in November to vote no on these faulty Senate maps so that new fair and competitive districts can be drawn and put into place for the rest of the decade."

Although qualifying a referendum for a ballot customarily stops the law from going into effect, the redistricting plan for will be used in this year's primary and general elections, because of a decision by the California Supreme Court last month.

The court's 7-0 decision stated that "not only do the commission-certified Senate districts appear to comply with all of the constitutionally mandated criteria set forth in the California Constitution... the commission-certified Senate districts also are a product of what generally appears to have been an open, transparent and nonpartisan redistricting process as called for by the current provisions of Article XXI."

Walters called the court's decision "short-sighted and disrespectful of the over 700,000 Californians who signed referendum petitions in the hopes of getting a fair Senate redistricting plan for 2012 that respects the state Constitution."

The referendum will be the first on a California ballot since February 2008 when four gaming compact measures to allow certain Native American tribes were approved by voters. Since 1912, 47 state referenda have been on a California ballot, Bowen said.

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