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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.

Confirmed Cases: 19097

Reported Deaths: 326
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah445092
Washington283023
Marion266767
Umatilla199624
Clackamas140136
Malheur67310
Deschutes5378
Lane5183
Lincoln3919
Union3882
Jackson3851
Yamhill35911
Jefferson3103
Morrow3041
Polk28812
Linn24810
Klamath1941
Hood River1690
Wasco1613
Benton1556
Douglas1321
Josephine1051
Coos840
Clatsop800
Columbia780
Crook431
Lake320
Baker300
Tillamook280
Wallowa191
Curry140
Sherman140
Harney80
Gilliam40
Grant20
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 512175

Reported Deaths: 9396
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1921774693
Orange37391651
Riverside37011695
San Bernardino32980417
San Diego29883565
Kern20545144
Fresno15083138
Alameda11524189
San Joaquin11483168
Santa Clara10626191
Sacramento10067142
Tulare9454178
Imperial9409220
Stanislaus9061110
Contra Costa7966125
Ventura734476
San Francisco681161
Santa Barbara616760
San Mateo5544119
Marin499470
Monterey482230
Kings438056
Merced428550
Solano361137
Sonoma305537
Madera194330
Placer192516
San Luis Obispo178315
Yolo154442
Santa Cruz11524
Butte9417
Napa8888
Sutter7866
San Benito6434
El Dorado6371
Lassen6310
Yuba4854
Shasta3699
Glenn3251
Colusa3234
Mendocino3179
Nevada2991
Tehama2341
Humboldt2334
Lake1951
Mono1451
Tuolumne1412
Amador1260
Calaveras1251
Del Norte880
Siskiyou730
Mariposa562
Inyo511
Plumas330
Trinity50
Alpine20
Modoc20
Sierra20
Unassigned00
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