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Redistricting in Oregon Needs an Independent Commission by Ruth Kistler

The Oregon Legislature’s redistricting process is complete. On September 27, 2021, the Legislature adopted new congressional and legislative redistricting maps for Oregon with the passage of Senate Bill 881 A and Senate Bill 882 on party-line votes. Governor Brown subsequently signed both measures. The maps are available on the Legislature’s redistricting website. These maps will be in effect for the 2022 elections barring any successful court challenges. Under the adopted maps, Oregon House District 10 (that’s us here in Lincoln County) stops at the Lincoln County north border, losing areas in south Tillamook County, and picks up Yachats and areas of Lane County north of Florence. Our area is now part of the fourth Congressional district, along with the Oregon coast counties to our south and areas of the Willamette Valley that include Corvallis and Eugene.

Although the Legislature fulfilled their redistricting responsibilities, the legislators are dissatisfied with the process. In his Sept 28 communication with constituents Representative David Gomberg (D) said: “ . . . this week reinforced my belief that legislators shouldn’t be the ones making these decisions. Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around. No matter how we draw the lines, there’s no way we won’t leave a lot of people disillusioned and cynical about government when we desperately need to move in the opposite direction.” Senator Dick Anderson (R) communicated his strong criticism of the process and concluded, “I will support any effort that puts the process of redistricting in the hands of Oregonians (a truly independent body) not dependent on the outcome of the decision by elected officials. Just a group of people with diverse backgrounds, that can objectively (at least better than we can) see what fits right. 14 other states figured it out and they seem to be working well with it.”

LWVOR is again working with partners to get a measure, IP 34, onto the November 2022 Ballot to create an independent citizen’s redistricting commission. This renewed initiative campaign seeks to take advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with this last redistricting effort. 1,000 sponsorship signatures have already been gathered for the initiative and submitted to the Elections Division. The Attorney General will draft a ballot title and, after considering comments, issue a Certified Ballot Title. We expect the process, including expected appeals to the Oregon Supreme Court (there always are appeals) will be complete in January or February 2022. At that point we will be able to start gathering signatures to qualify this initiative for the November ballot.

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