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Push to remove redistricting from Oregon Legislature inspires ballot initiatives

Oregon voters may be asked next year to take the redrawing of congressional and legislative boundaries out of the hands of elected politicians.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 11:35 AM
Updated: Nov 13, 2019 3:44 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon voters may be asked next year to take the redrawing of congressional and legislative boundaries out of the hands of elected politicians.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports a coalition that includes a variety of political and government watchdog groups on Tuesday said they are filing three proposed initiatives that would create a nonpartisan citizens panel to handle redistricting for congressional and legislative seats in Oregon following the 2020 census.

Norman Turrill, an Oregon League of Women Voters official and a chief sponsor of the measures, said that legislators shouldn’t control a process that can play an important role in determining who wins elections.

“The Legislature has a conflict of interest in the process,” Turrill said, “and they would be tempted to bias the results to favor one party or another.”

In addition to the League of Women Voters, the coalition backing the bill includes Common Cause of Oregon, OSPIRG, the Independent Party of Oregon, the Oregon Progressive Party, the Oregon Farm Bureau and the Taxpayer Association of Oregon.

However, the coalition could run into opposition from groups aligned with the Democratic legislative majority, which now controls redistricting in Oregon.

One warning signal came from Our Oregon, a Portland-based group that coordinates political activity among labor unions, social justice groups, environmentalists and other left-of-center organizations.

Becca Uherbelau, Our Oregon’s executive director, said she was concerned that the proposed 12-member citizens commission would be less accountable to voters and not reflect the concerns of the most under-represented voters.

“Right now,” she said, “it looks like a cookie-cutter solution in search of a problem.”

The proposed measure follows the basic approach adopted by California voters in 2010. The Oregon proposal calls for the commission to be equally divided among registered Democrats, Republicans and those who don’t belong to either of those parties. A panel of three state administrative law judges would winnow down a list of applicants to include a pool of 150 people. Out of that pool, six commissioners would be randomly selected — and those six would in turn choose the remaining six from the judge-selected applicants.

The measure also would prohibit major elected officials and their aides, political party officials, major political donors and lobbyists from serving on the commission.

Turrill argued that this is a better approach than was adopted in the state of Washington, which created its redistricting commission in the 1980s. In Washington, the members of the commission are chosen by legislative leaders of both parties. Turrill called it a “bipartisan gerrymandering commission” that sets up a system of horse-trading between the Democratic and Republican parties.

“I think the people who oppose this (Oregon measure) are people who benefit from the current process,” he said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 72506

Reported Deaths: 896
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah16587234
Washington1013599
Marion9082139
Clackamas602377
Umatilla432549
Lane425042
Jackson376830
Malheur238742
Deschutes229115
Yamhill169616
Linn139222
Polk121416
Douglas92118
Klamath8444
Jefferson81411
Benton7847
Union7796
Morrow6547
Lincoln61615
Wasco52419
Josephine5234
Columbia4883
Coos4213
Hood River3961
Clatsop3590
Baker2783
Crook2196
Grant1341
Curry1332
Tillamook1260
Lake1241
Harney991
Wallowa713
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler30
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1200624

Reported Deaths: 19116
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3908917623
San Bernardino921641129
Riverside857691437
San Diego80018997
Orange767611577
Kern40632448
Fresno37994481
Sacramento36579566
Santa Clara33732476
Alameda29116511
San Joaquin25741502
Contra Costa23571261
Stanislaus21585424
Tulare20634308
Ventura19379175
Imperial15960356
San Francisco15377160
Monterey14753116
San Mateo14148170
Sonoma12049157
Merced11550179
Santa Barbara11340135
Kings1068787
Solano1004481
Marin7704129
Placer635468
San Luis Obispo612936
Madera605085
Yolo473775
Shasta471847
Santa Cruz435828
Butte389459
Sutter314415
Napa298817
El Dorado23154
Yuba198110
San Benito186516
Lassen17733
Tehama164925
Mendocino148522
Nevada11849
Tuolumne9818
Lake90919
Glenn8918
Humboldt8509
Colusa6946
Siskiyou6242
Amador55416
Mono5453
Calaveras47822
Del Norte3131
Inyo29016
Plumas2050
Trinity1580
Modoc1310
Mariposa1302
Alpine500
Sierra190
Unassigned00
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