In its voting and civic participation work, the Warren Institute seeks to investigate and address obstacles to full political participation that voters of color face.  Citizens of color register, vote, and hold political office at lower rates than white citizens; as a result, communities of color may lack a voice in political decision-making.  We seek to increase participation by and representation of voters of color by addressing a variety of issues, such as voting rights, redistricting, election administration, and civic participation. 

In one of our current projects, Redistricting California: Compliance with the Federal and State Voting Rights Acts and Enhancing the Electoral Participation and Representation of Communities of Color, we are researching and providing information and policy guidance on important unanswered questions concerning redistricting that will affect voters of color in California and beyond.  To that end, we are producing a series of research briefs, each of which discusses a topic identified by voting rights practitioners as being in need of legal and/or social science research and policy development.  The Redistricting research brief series includes four issue briefs:

  • Redistricting: Determining the Judicially Acceptable Use of Race in the Redistricting Process

    To what extent can line drawers, legislators, and grassroots organizers, consider race in the redistricting process? This paper will analyze the permissible use of race in the redistricting process.  In doing so, it will discuss recent Supreme Court cases and the necessity to comply with federal law, specifically in the Voting Rights Act. Statewide redistricting in California will be presented as an example. 
  • Redistricting:  Influence Districts – A Note of Caution and a Better Measure

    When discussing how best to draw districts to protect minority voting strength, some commentators and courts suggest that minority voters would be better served by decreasing the number of majority-minority districts and increasing the number of minority influence districts. Unfortunately, “influence districts” have been loosely defined and have yet to be sufficiently empirically determined. This research brief examines past judicial definitions of “influence districts,” identifies their shortcomings, and posits a new empirically based standard that line drawers can use to identify presumptive influence districts.
  • Redistricting:  Coalition Districts and the Voting Rights Act

    How should redistricting line drawers deal with increasingly diverse populations, especially in situations where no single minority group is large enough to constitute a majority in a district? What information needs to be considered when deciding whether more than one minority group should be drawn together to form a majority of a district in compliance with the Voting Rights Act? This research brief will consider the legal and evidentiary issues at play when considering the drawing of minority coalition districts and present an analysis of inter-ethnic voting patterns in several recent California elections as an illustration.
  • Redistricting:  Estimating Citizen Voting Age Population
When determining how to draw electoral districts in a way that complies with the Voting Rights Act, many jurisdictions will need to consider proportions of citizen voting age population (CVAP). While the US Decennial Census captures basic demographic information about all individuals in the United States, it doesn’t inquire into citizenship status. As such, line drawing officials will need to estimate CVAP through other means. This research brief explains Census Bureau data sources, including the American Community Survey, which estimates CVAP, but has some limitations for redistricting use. The brief then explains a method to use ACS and Census data in conjunction to develop more accurate CVAP estimates that are better for redistricting uses than ACS estimates alone.

The Warren Institute is a partner in the Redistricting Group at Berkeley Law. The Redistricting Group was created to provide information, training and technical assistance for redistricting in California. The Redistricting Group's website provides information and educational materials geared toward interested members of the public. This includes topics such as redistricting requirements, California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, and how individuals can provide information about their communities of interests and neighborhoods to line drawing officials.