Redistricting is the process of drawing the geographic boundaries to create electoral districts for congressional and legislative representatives. This occurs every ten years in conjunction with the publication of the National Census and will take place in 2021.
Oregon’s legislature is responsible for redrawing district lines objectively. However, partisanship and incumbency can unduly influence how districts are reshaped. Many states around the country have realized this problem known as gerrymandering. Washington and California have reformed their processes, creating independent commissions to oversee redistricting rather than relying on a partisan legislature and incumbents tethered to their preexisting district boundaries.
Many of our local leaders are concerned and taking action. Both Democratic and Republican state legislators have drafted redistricting reform bills to be debated in this current legislative session. The League of Women Voters and the Portland City Club have both voiced concern and have developed reports on reform ideas that show support for independent redistricting. Oregonians from across the political spectrum, all of whom care about fairness and objectivity, want to improve the process with more independence and less partisanship. This growing concern was the catalyst for the convening of the Independent Redistricting Task Force. The Task Force members are from diverse political affiliations and an open invitation stands for all interested groups to become engaged in this effort. The goal of the Task Force is to develop a consensus proposal that will be provided to the legislature for consideration and to interest groups for possible creation of citizen ballot measures. The Task Force is assembling the best practices of redistricting reforms from across the country. Another focus of the Task Force is in harnessing a technology-based, data-driven process that could help mitigate conflict of interest concerns intrinsically created by unconscious bias.
Feedback and participation is crucially important during this transparent and accessible process. The meetings are open to the public, are live video streamed via the Oregon Legislature’s website, are audio recorded, and the public is invited to provide their input via digital citizen engagement. This innovative and unique opportunity puts the power in the hands of Oregonians to help restore integrity and transparency in government and to move Oregon forward.
Task Force Documents and Resources
Informational background material submitted by task force members or the public.