[EM] District Sizes and PR

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Wed Jul 23 14:55:52 PDT 2003

We've had some discussion of "closeness to the representatives."  I'd like
to add a personal anecdote:

Last November (2002) I discovered a minor identity theft on my credit
report.  The identity theft had occured more than 4 years earlier, but the
statute of limitations in California was 3 years, according to the
Sheriff's detective.  It was too late to do anything legally, except add
another report to the suspect's dossier.

I wrote to my Assembly member, and suggested that she extend the statute
of limitations.  She introduced a bill to do that, and I opened my
newspaper this morning (7/23/2003) to see that her bill passed unanimously
and was signed by the governor on Monday night.  In the article she cited
my letter as the reason why she introduced the bill.  From now on, the
statute of limitations will be 3 years from the time the identity theft is
discovered, not 3 years from the time it occurs.

I'm pleased by this outcome, and I'm glad our legislative districts are
small enough that an ordinary person can get the attention of a
legislator.  I don't mind huge constituencies in one house of a bicameral
legislature, but I hope we always have one house with smaller
constituencies.  Whether those small constituencies are single-member of
multi-member (or even geographic vs. virtual) is immaterial to me, access
is what matters.

Anyway, I'm just happy that democracy occasionally works the way it's
supposed to.  I didn't receive or ask for any pork, I just asked for
better protection from theft, and I got it with one letter.  Good
elections aren't the only essential ingredient in a healthy democracy.


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