For Immediate Release
November 12, 2019
Norman Turrill: (503) 386-7996
People Not Politicians, a coalition of Oregon voters and organizations concerned about good government, today filed a statewide initiative to reform Oregon’s redistricting process.
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.
“Letting politicians manipulate voting maps is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Politicians in power shouldn’t be allowed to draw voting maps that benefit themselves, but that’s exactly what they do now. It’s a conflict of interest.” said Norman Turrill, Chair of People Not Politicians and President of the League of Women Voters of Oregon Advocacy Fund.
“We need to reform the process to create a fair system so that voters are choosing their politicians instead of politicians choosing their voters,” said Turrill.
Traditionally, state legislators draw district boundary maps every 10 years based on national census data. New district lines based on the 2020 census will be especially important because Oregon is projected to gain a sixth U.S. congressional seat due to population growth. 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 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.”