Natural Resource Report | By Oregonians for Food and Shelter | November 20, 2019
The redistricting of Congressional and Legislative Districts happens every 10 years. Oregon’s population growth means we stand to gain a Congressional district after the 2020 Census.
To ensure the process for drawing voting district boundaries is fair and not in politicians’ hands, People Not Politicians, a diverse coalition of Oregon voters and organizations concerned about good government, filed a statewide initiative to reform Oregon’s redistricting process. People Not Politicians launched this campaign in order to ensure that the 2021 redistricting process and every process that follows is fair, impartial and transparent.
The initiative would amend Oregon’s constitution to change how legislative and congressional district boundaries are drawn, creating an independent citizen redistricting commission to draw voting districts. Currently, Oregon legislators draw their own districts, often without taking input from everyday Oregonians into account.
The initiative would create the Oregon Citizens Redistricting Commission consisting of 12 Oregonians selected from qualified applicants – four Democrats, four Republicans and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated. Major donors to political candidates or parties would not be eligible. Neither would elected officials, political party officials or their family members. Commissioners would be selected to represent the broad diversity of Oregonians.
The commission would be required to follow strict criteria in drawing the maps and would be prohibited from favoring or discriminating against any candidate, elected official or political party, nor could they create districts for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic group.
The initiative has already been endorsed by the League of Women Voters of Oregon, Oregon Farm Bureau, Common Cause Oregon, the Independent Party of Oregon, NAACP Eugene/Springfield Branch, Taxpayer Association of Oregon, OSPIRG, American Association of University Women of OR (OR AAUW), Oregon’s Progressive Party, and many others.
“When politicians engineer voting maps, they’re effectively fixing elections,” said Sharon Waterman, President of Oregon Farm Bureau and Chief Petitioner on the initiative. “Turning the redistricting process over to impartial citizens will take partisan politics out of the equation.