3/10/2021: The Oregon Legislature is now seeking input from citizens regarding Redistricting. Make Your Voice Heard! Submit oral or written comments to the state. https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/redistricting/.
What is “Redistricting” exactly?
Redistricting is the process of redrawing the lines that define political districts.
Redistricting, or AKA Gerrymandering as it has been practiced, is when elected or appointed officials in charge of redistricting reconfigure districts to favor a political party, incumbent, or candidate. Often the purpose of gerrymandering is to also create uncompetitive races or “safe districts” where districts are drawn to give one party or interest a clear advantage and secure incumbency.
There are 3 common types of Gerrymandering:
Partisan: Where parties who are in control of the redrawing the districts, do so in a way that solidifies or even increases the number of seats of their party in the legislature or congress.
Bipartisan: Where typically both parties are equally represented in the decision making process and negotiate or trade in order for each party to have a more safe districts to protect their respective interests or incumbents.
Racial: Refers to a process in which district lines are drawn to prevent racial minorities from electing their preferred candidates.
Why should we care?
Redistricting affects the size of our congressional and legislative districts which affects voting, elections, and representation. Every ten years, our legislative and congressional districts are allowed to be re-drawn usually by the political party in power in the state Capitol. This power should be in the hands of the citizens.
That’s why the Census, which occurs every ten years, is such a big deal. Census data is used to draw the lines of the districts. Redistricting should change districts to more accurately reflect the changes in numbers and interests of constituents. Census numbers also affect funding to the states from education to healthcare and more. The Census 2020 is very important!
The League of Women Voters has been busy working on a solution. Redistricting is a central focus of the LWVUS, the national League. Here’s the League’s position.
The following is the history of what transpired during 2020. The League’s efforts ran into problems that resulted in not being able to put an initiative on the ballot. Basically, we did not receive enough signatures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the efforts was declared unconstitutional. To get a full understanding, start at the bottom and scroll up as you read.
Efforts are Not Over
The Oregon committee will continue its work on Redistricting possibilities in our state. Read former LWV Oregon president’s latest summary of Redistricting efforts in the article “Initiative Petition 57 Update” in LWVOR’s Voter Newsletter dated Oct. 20.
Sep. 22, 2020. IP57 has been blocked from being on this November’s ballot. Read OPB’s article here. After a few legal moves, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said there was no way to resolve the legal issues before ballots are to be printed and distributed. Of course, organizers are disappointed, but they are not discouraged.
Thank you to all of you who supported the idea to make redistricting more fair by creating an independent commission to redraw district boundaries after the Census. Thank you to all of you who sent in your signed petitions. You were among over 64,000 Oregonians who sent in petitions.
Also read this article by the MailTribune.
From OPB on July 29, 2020:
Oregon attorney general takes fight against redistricting initiative to US Supreme Court
Oregon Attorney General Ellen “Rosenblum asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to issue an emergency stay blocking attempts to put the measure on the November ballot in Oregon.” “A three-judge panel for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused Rosenblum’s request for an emergency stay of McShane’s decision and has scheduled oral arguments for Aug. 13 on whether to overturn his decision.”
Read the article here.
Press Release on 7/23/20
SALEM, OR—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today declined to halt implementation of a Federal District Court decision, in People Not Politicians Oregon v. Clarno, giving redistricting reform advocates more time to gather signatures with a lower signature threshold to place Initiative Petition 57 (IP 57) on Oregon’s 2020 November ballot.
“We are thrilled that our people-powered campaign to make redistricting in Oregon fair and transparent has scored another victory in court,” said Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon. “People Not Politicians engaged in an extraordinarily energetic and creative effort to gather signatures safely during a pandemic. We hope the court ultimately lets the public decide whether everyday Oregonians—not politicians—should draw our legislative and congressional districts.”
“We know this is the right thing to do, both in Oregon and nationally. The Independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission initiative is well written, the commissioner selection process is meticulously careful and fair, and Oregon’s history shows that this faulty system needs our voters’ help,” said Rebecca Gladstone, President, the League of Women Voters of Oregon.
We shall continue!
Press Release July 14, 2020
Secretary of State Bev Clarno Announces Extension of Signature Gathering for Initiative Petition 57
SALEM, OR — In light of the recent opinion and order from U.S. District Judge Michael McShane, Secretary of State Bev Clarno has announced she will continue to accept signatures from Chief Petitioners for Initiative Petition 57.
IP 57 is seeking to place an initiative on the November 2020 ballot that would amend the Oregon Constitution to create an independent redistricting commission.Per the court order, IP 57 will have a reduced signature threshold and an extension until August 17.
The Secretary of State Elections Division will review and certify signatures for IP 57 through its normal process.
Secretary Clarno is not requesting an appeal to the ruling at this time. This ruling applies only to IP 57 and does not extend to other signature petition efforts without a separate court order.
“As Oregon’s chief elections officer, I am deeply committed to expanding voter access and ensuring the integrity of Oregon’s elections,” said Secretary Clarno. “I and our Elections Division team will remain focused on the smooth administration of our election processes.”
Press Release July 10, 2020
Federal District Court Grants People Not Politicians an Extension to Gather Signatures to End Gerrymandering
SALEM — A federal district court issued a preliminary order granting People Not Politicians, a broad and diverse coalition to create an independent citizens commission for Oregon, relief to qualify its redistricting reform initiative for the November 2020 election. The judge’s order allows the Secretary of State to decide by 5:00pm Monday, July 13, 2020 to either accept People Not Politician’s signatures as submitted, or accept a reduced number of signatures to 58,789 and allow additional time to gather until August 17, 2020.
Judge Michael J. McShane in People Not Politicians v. Secretary of State Clarno ruled in favor of People Not Politicians which executed a no-contact statewide signature gathering campaign in order to qualify Initiative Petition 57 (IP 57) for the November 2020 ballot while observing Governor Kate Brown’s stay-at-home orders.
Judge McShane found that People Not Politicians exercised “reasonable diligence” in attempting to qualify for the ballot, specifically because of the hard work that the campaign did to do outreach, build a broad coalition and plan creatively to collect signatures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through direct mail to 500,000 households and grassroot volunteer efforts that included multiple methods of outreach to thousands of voters, People Not Politicians gathered signatures from over 64,000 voters who signed IP 57 and mailed it back to the campaign.
Activists in other states have successfully challenged state petition and signature laws. In Arkansas, Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia, courts granted extensions of the signature submission deadline and/or reductions in the signature threshold and other relief. Building on those successes, People Not Politicians asked a federal district court in Oregon for similar relief on June 30.
Kathay Feng, Redistricting & Representation Director, Common Cause
“We filed this lawsuit asking the Court to recognize the extreme and unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic and the burdens that the Governor’s orders placed on PNP’s First Amendment rights. Oregonians will now have a say on IP 57, giving people, not politicians, the ability to just in time for the 2021 redistricting process.”
Norman Turrill, People Not Politicians
“People Not Politicians is fighting to enact redistricting reform before Oregon draws new maps in 2021. We forged ahead through this COVID crisis and implemented an unprecedented signature gathering program, bringing in tens of thousands of petitions from Oregonians in barely over one month.”
Initiative Petition 57, filed in November 2019, would create the Oregon Citizens Redistricting Commission and put redistricting in the hands of voters, not our politicians. The commission would consist of 12 Oregonians who applied and were selected from qualified applicants – four from the first largest political party, four from the second largest political party, and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated. Major donors to political candidates or parties would not be eligible. Neither would elected-officials, political party officials or their family members. Commissioners would be selected to represent the broad diversity of Oregonians.
The initiative campaign coalition has been led by the League of Women Voters of Oregon, Common Cause Oregon, Oregon Farm Bureau, the Independent Party of Oregon, NAACP Eugene/Springfield Branch, OSPIRG, Oregon’s Progressive Party, and tens of thousands of Oregonians who supported the effort to remove conflicts of interest from drawing of voter lines.
Steve Elzinga of Sherman, Sherman, Johnnie and Hoyt represented People Not Politicians in court. Common Cause attorneys Dan Vicuna, Suzanne Almeida, Kathay Feng, and law clerks Alton Wang and Michael Guggenheim, and Kecker Van Nest attorney Adam Lauridsen contributed to the briefs.
Press Release July 2, 2020
SALEM—Today, the People Not Politicians campaign, the broad and diverse coalition that has come together to end gerrymandering in Oregon, submitted tens of thousands of signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State for Initiative Petition 57 (“IP57”), just days after filing a lawsuit in Federal Court to ensure that all of the signatures gathered to qualify its redistricting reform initiative for the November 2020 ballot would count.
“People Not Politicians is committed to ensuring that redistricting reform happens before Oregon draws new maps in 2021. We forged ahead through unprecedented times with an unprecedented signature gathering program, bringing in tens of thousands of petitions from Oregonians in barely over one month,” said Norman Turrill, Chief Petitioner and Chair of the People Not Politicians campaign committee.
“We filed our lawsuit on Tuesday asking the Court to recognize the extreme and unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic that impacted the signature gathering process in Oregon, and to protect our First Amendment rights by reducing the barriers to the ballot,” Turrill continued.
Initiative Petition 57, filed in November 2019, would create the Oregon Citizens Redistricting Commission and put redistricting in the hands of Oregonians, not our politicians. The commission would consist of 12 Oregonians who applied and were selected from qualified applicants – four from the first largest political party, four from the second largest political party, and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated. Major donors to political candidates or parties would not be eligible. Neither would elected-officials, political party officials or their family members. Commissioners would be selected to represent the broad diversity of Oregonians.
After succeeding through multiple politically-motivated legal challenges and delays, the campaign was approved to collect signatures in April, weeks after Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued several emergency orders and the Stay Home, Save Lives program, which, while necessary for public health, effectively ended all possibility of traditional in-person signature gathering efforts.
After weeks of brainstorming and preparation, at the end of May, the People Not Politicians campaign launched a novel, creative and aggressive no-contact signature gathering campaign to collect signatures through direct mail, e-petitions and virtual grassroots communications efforts to qualify for the November ballot.
“Our first priority, of course, has been to ensure the safety and health of all Oregonians during this time and we adhered to the social distancing measures under Governor Brown’s Executive Orders with an abundance of caution,” said Candalynn Johnson, Deputy Campaign Manager for People Not Politicians. “But—democracy doesn’t stop. Redistricting will happen in 2021, and Oregonians deserve a redistricting process that is about the people, not politicians. During this time of unrest, our need to protect and advance the democratic process and ensure all Oregonians are represented is more important than ever.”
The initiative campaign coalition came together in April of 2019 and has been led by the League of Women Voters of Oregon, Oregon Farm Bureau, Common Cause Oregon, the Independent Party of Oregon, NAACP Eugene/Springfield Branch, Taxpayer Association of Oregon, OSPIRG, Oregon’s Progressive Party, and tens of thousands of Oregonians who supported the effort to remove conflicts of interest from drawing of voter lines.
Grappling with terminology? Check out our Redistricting Glossary.