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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: 175592

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35068568
Washington23492229
Marion20261299
Clackamas15451204
Lane11656144
Jackson9938127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes717272
Linn417563
Yamhill411675
Klamath349059
Polk345752
Malheur342858
Josephine306662
Douglas304965
Benton273318
Jefferson207332
Coos197831
Columbia155126
Union141624
Lincoln130520
Wasco129928
Hood River112729
Morrow107915
Clatsop8998
Crook88119
Baker86114
Curry5959
Tillamook5823
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3720901

Reported Deaths: 61045
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122932823648
Riverside2973194528
San Bernardino2948834556
San Diego2751123674
Orange2690364896
Santa Clara1171862017
Kern1078791322
Sacramento1015111646
Fresno1006211646
Alameda854811477
Ventura803091000
San Joaquin715271334
Contra Costa67101782
Stanislaus605131030
Tulare49414831
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41201560
San Francisco36073525
Santa Barbara33913446
Solano32027239
Merced31267452
Sonoma29715311
Imperial27991719
Kings22777245
Placer21878283
San Luis Obispo20972257
Madera16277239
Santa Cruz15615204
Marin13865226
Yolo13562200
Shasta11722218
Butte11591196
El Dorado9777109
Napa968079
Sutter9292109
Yuba611044
San Benito598963
Lassen567324
Tehama543056
Nevada447775
Tuolumne408164
Mendocino398747
Amador362746
Humboldt362138
Lake341343
Glenn235825
Colusa219916
Calaveras206051
Siskiyou195921
Inyo141738
Del Norte12887
Mono12744
Plumas6936
Modoc4904
Mariposa4267
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned510
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