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The state's first independent redistricting commission approved new maps for 177 state legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts Monday - but whether they will be implemented or canceled by legal and political challenges remains unclear.

The maps for 80 Assembly districts, 40 Senate districts, 53 congressional districts and four Board of Equalization districts were approved with a smattering of "no" votes from some Republican members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

At least three Republicans, three Democrats and three independents on the 14-member commission had to approve the maps. Their adoption followed months of hearings and line-by-line discussions by commission members.

Republican Party officials have sharply criticized the new maps, which could result in Democratic gains in the Legislature and the congressional delegation - perhaps enough in the former to give Democrats two-thirds majorities. GOP officials are weighing a referendum drive that would subject the maps to a popular vote next year.

Latino rights activists have also criticized the maps for, they say, not fully encompassing the state's large gain in Latino population over the last decade. They may seek review from the U.S. Justice Department under the federal Voting Rights Act.

If the commission's maps are stalled by either a lawsuit or a referendum, the state Supreme Court would step in and adopt its own maps that would be used for the 2012 elections - or longer if the maps are rejected.

Monday's action was a formality because the final maps were informally approved two weeks earlier.



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