June 9, 2021
House Committee on Rules
900 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
Dear Chair Smith Warner, Vice Chair Drazan, Vice Chair Holvey and Members of the Committee:
As members of a broad and diverse statewide coalition representing hundreds of thousands of Oregon voices, our priority is for Oregon to have the most fair and transparent redistricting process as possible. It is in the spirit of achieving that transparency, we ask you to please hold a public hearing on HJR 7.
Given the historic Census delays, ongoing challenges stemming from the pandemic, a Capitol closed to its public, and the first addition in over 40 years of a new Congressional seat, now more than ever, our legislature needs to make sure the process for drawing new legislative and congressional district boundaries is fair and transparent.
Oregonians deserve the opportunity to provide their opinions directly to their elected representatives on the well-supported alternative to the current redistricting process.
Our polling showed that 83% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 62% of Republicans in Oregon support reforming our redistricting process to create an independent citizens commission that would draw our legislative and congressional districts.
Last year, at the onset of a global pandemic and in the midst of an unprecedented statewide lockdown, more than 74,000 Oregonians hustled and signed Initiative Petition 57 to create an independent citizens redistricting commission.
Oregon has long been a national leader in voter rights and access, progressive election reform policies, transparency and accountability, and comparable policies and values. However, when it comes to considering a more fair, transparent, and multi-partisan approach to redistricting reform where multiple voices are represented in this process, we lag far behind.
- Only TWICE since 1911 has the Oregon legislature passed a redistricting plan that became the final adopted plan.
- As recently as 2018, five more states passed redistricting reforms.
- Eight states have independent citizen redistricting commissions, and 21 states have implemented an alternative process to legislators drawing their own maps.
- One in five Americans now live in a state with an independent redistricting commission.
- Only four states in the West – including Oregon – do not have some form of independent redistricting.
In April, The Oregonian editorialized that “…in the case of redistricting, in which lawmakers are determining the geographical boundaries that shape Oregonians’ political representation for the next 10 years, the Legislature must assure voters of the integrity and fairness of the process.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Members of the Senate and House Redistricting Committees have consistently communicated a commitment to adhere to the value of transparency in the Legislative Assembly’s actions on redistricting. Now we are asking you to do the same. The simplest and most opportune manner in which to assure Oregonians of integrity, fairness and transparency in this process is in your hands.
On behalf of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, and in the interest of the future of Oregon’s democracy, we are asking you to hold a public hearing on HJR 7 and let Oregonians be heard.
There’s still time – will you act?