Oregon’s highly partisan and controversial redistricting process underscores critical need for independent citizens’ redistricting commission
People Not Politicians to proceed with Initiative Petition 16
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2021
Norman Turrill (503) 807-4863
PORTLAND—Following the Oregon Legislature’s passage of legislative and congressional district maps through a highly partisan process, People Not Politicians will begin initial signature gathering this week to put Initiative Petition 16 (IP 16) to create an independent citizens’ redistricting commission on the November 2022 ballot
“The Oregon legislature has once again demonstrated the need for an independent citizens’ redistricting commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines, ” said Norman Turrill, Chair of People Not Politicians. “The promise of fair representation should not be a pawn in a partisan political game. We need to reform this process to create a fair system so that Oregon voters are choosing their politicians, instead of politicians choosing their voters.”
Prior to yesterday’s partisan passage of the new maps, only twice since 1911 had the Oregon legislature passed a redistricting plan that became the final adopted plan.
Legislators clearly did not follow their own statute. ORS 188.016(2)(a) requires five hearings on “a” final reapportionment plan. Legislators held 12 hearings on three dueling plans released on September 3. They then released new maps in late September, yet held no hearings on the final maps at which the public was allowed to testify.
“The task of drawing legislative and congressional maps is highly political, shaping power and resources for a decade. It doesn’t work to have elected officials draw their own districts, no matter how well intentioned they are. It’s like having athletes serve as their own referee,” said Kate Titus, Executive Director for Common Cause Oregon. “Redistricting works best in the hands of an independent body, focused on communities of interest rather than political party interests.”
Oregonians support creating an independent citizens’ redistricting commission. In late 2019, People Not Politicians enlisted Lake Research Partners to run a statewide poll. Results showed an average 76% of Democrats, 67% of Independents, and 60% of Republicans favor an independent citizens’ commission.
Initiative Petition 16 would put into place a 12-member multi-partisan independent citizens’ redistricting commission. The commission would consist of four Democrats, four Republicans and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated voters to redraw district lines in 2024. Third-party and non-affiliated voters are now the largest sector of registered voters in Oregon, about 40% of the electorate.
Initiative Petition 16 is similar to 2020’s IP 57, which narrowly fell short of making the ballot only after Oregon Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed numerous legal challenges and delayed the process all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This measure reforms the process to draw districts in a fair, open, and a balanced multi-partisan way, so Oregonians can have a better voice in their representation,” said Turrill.
The People Not Politicians coalition includes a full spectrum of Oregon voices for an independent citizens’ redistricting commission: Common Cause Oregon, the League of Women Voters of Oregon, the Independent Party of Oregon, the Oregon Progressive Party, the NAACP, the Oregon Farm Bureau, OSPIRG, AAUW of Oregon, PDX Forward, Standup America, multiple business groups, and tens of thousands of Oregonians.