LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Leaders of a coalition of civil rights, voter rights and business groups say it's time to stop California legislators from drawing their own district lines and insuring their own re-elections. Instead, voters should approve the California Voters FIRST Redistricting Reform Act, and give voters back the power to choose their own elected officials.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today joined AARP, California Common Cause, The League of Women Voters of California, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Governor Schwarzenegger, former State Controller Steve Westly, and many other Californians who say state legislators need to be more accountable to the voters.

'ACLU-SC supports California Voters FIRST because we are committed to ensuring that California voters are fairly represented in our political process,' Ramona Ripston, ACLU-SC Executive Director said. 'We are dedicated to democracy and this initiative will give the voters the power to choose their elected officials by giving them a chance to help redraw state legislative districts.'

State legislators currently draw their own district lines, resulting in a 99% re-election rate of incumbents. The California Voters FIRST Act will change this and put the power to draw lines in the hands of an independent commission and out of the hands of politicians.

'The ACLU of Southern California's endorsement is a welcome addition to our growing network of support,' Kathay Feng, California Common Cause executive director said. 'The California Voters FIRST Initiative will put the voters back in charge - especially in communities that have been broken up by the current process- like Koreatown in Los Angeles or La Jolla in San Diego. This much needed redistricting reform will give voters a voice, finally holding legislators accountable and ending the gridlock in Sacramento.'

The initiative, proposed by a bipartisan coalition of good-government groups, current and former elected officials and business organizations from across California, will create a 14-person independent citizens' commission to draw legislative districts. The commission will be comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and four individuals from other parties. Under California Voters FIRST, the redistricting process will be open and transparent with opportunity for public input.

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