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2 new developments in drama over political redistricting

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There were a couple of big developments Wednesday in the ongoing drama surrounding California’s new political district maps.

The secretary of state said there are enough signatures to send a Republican-led referendum effort to overturn state Senate maps onto the next stage -- the verification of those signatures. If at least 504,760 of them are found to be valid, the matter will be put to voters in November.

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There is considerable debate, however, about whether the maps drawn earlier this year by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission would be used for next year’s elections until voters could get their say.

The signatures were collected by Republican activists, aided by donations totaling $2.5 million. As of late afternoon Wednesday, nearly 700,000 signatures had been reported to the secretary of state, with some counties yet to turn in their numbers.

Also Wednesday, a separate group of Republicans, including former Rep. George Radanovich, filed suit in federal court, alleging that the commission’s congressional district maps violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

The case, filed in the Central District of California, “provides irrefutable evidence” that the commission “intentionally ignored federal law” in drawing the new districts, Radanovich said in a statement announcing the suit.

In response to earlier suits filed in the California Supreme Court against the Senate and congressional districts, the commission vigorously defended its work, saying the process was open, fair and consistent with federal law and with the wishes expressed by voters in creating the commission to draw political districts instead of lawmakers.

The state high court unanimously rejected both suits last month.

-- Jean Merl

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