By Hillary Kittleson | Eugene Register-Guard | June 15, 2018

As the nation grapples with its legacy of racism and how to move toward a just society, the right to vote and be fairly represented becomes even more critical.

In Oregon we have an opportunity to reform how voting districts are created and reduce the risk of gerrymandering. During June you can sign an initiative petition for the November ballot that would create an independent commission to draw state and federal legislative districts after the 2020 census.

Boundaries are drawn by the Oregon Legislature or, if it fails to act, by the secretary of state. In other words, politicians, not voters, create the districts that elect them. This is a conflict of interest that has often resulted in gerrymandering. The initiative replaces politicians with a committee of Democratic, Republican and Independent voters.

A coalition of groups, including the Eugene Springfield NAACP, League of Women Voters and Oregon Farm Bureau are leading this effort. If you received a petition in the mail, follow the instructions for signing and mail it in the postage-paid envelope. If you didn’t receive the petition, get one at Signing the petition is one important, concrete thing you can do to strengthen voting rights.