Redistricting Commission for Oregon
November 8 2018
Medford Library 11:30 to 1:30
Program starts at 11:45.
The LWV of Rogue Valley is sponsoring an educational forum on redistricting, featuring the President of the League of Women Voters of Oregon (LWVOR), Norman Turrill, and Candalynn Johnson, LWVOR’s Campaign Coordinator. The public is invited to this free event and includes Q & A. Coffee and cookies will be served. The Library will be closed but the front entrance will be open to the meeting room.
The LWVOR and LWVUS have positions on redistricting that call for a reform. The LWV has two branches: one for education and one for advocacy. While the League of Women Voters supports the structure of an Independent Redistricting Commission, this event is an educational presentation.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon did a study of the subject in 2007 and produced “Redistricting Oregon 2007.” As a result, the League favors the creation of an independent redistricting commission.
The League supports reforms that focus on district lines, not the politics. Our goal is to change who draws the district lines. Our aim is to increase transparency and public participation in the redistricting process, clarify the requirements of where district lines are drawn, and close the loopholes in our current system by refining redistricting criteria and requirements. We favor the creation of an independent redistricting commission with strict criteria for drawing district boundaries, which would require an amendment to the Oregon Constitution. This reform aims at limiting gerrymandering because when legislators have control of where the lines are drawn, as they do now, we have a system where gerrymandering can take priority over fair representation.
The redistricting forum is a space where voters can learn and ask questions about our current redistricting process, how it impacts elections here in Oregon, and what reform could look like. This is a space to talk about how the League is moving forward in advocating for fair representation, competitive districts, and a system that prevents abuse. This forum is a part of a larger statewide effort of the LWVOR’s commitment to educate voters on issues that impact them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Redistricting
- What is redistricting?
Redistricting is the process of redrawing the lines that define political districts. For legislative and congressional districts, this typically occurs after the completion of the federal census every ten years. Redistricting should change districts to more accurately reflect the changes in numbers and interests of constituents.
- What is gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering 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.
There are two ways that gerrymandering is often implemented with the help in recent technology:
Cracking: Spreads opposition voters across districts comfortably favoring the gerrymandering party, wasting opposition party votes in districts that their party can’t possibly win.
Stacking: Places as many opposition party supporters into as few districts as possible such that the opposition wins as few seats as possible.
- Does Oregon have a problem with gerrymandering?
We live in a state where partisan elected officials may be tempted to distort the districts they represent for their personal or partisan advantage. Whenever partisan elected officials are in charge of redistricting, we allow a system where gerrymandering takes priority over fair representation. According to the City Club of Portland 2012 report, before 2011 the last time the Oregon Legislature passed a redistricting plan that became the final adopted plan was 1911.
- Why do we need redistricting reform?
Reform could make our system less susceptible to gerrymandering, abuse and unrepresentative distortions. With an independent redistricting commission, we would take the process of redistricting out of the hands of partisan politicians and back into the hands of voters.
- Who would likely oppose this reform?
With a Democratic supermajority and a Democratic Governor, the current system of redistricting in Oregon favors the Democratic party; therefore, Democratic leaders and legislators will likely oppose this reform. However, gerrymandering is a process issue, a double-edged sword, and any dominant political party could unfairly use it.
- Why now?
Besides the coming census in 2020, there is never a bad time to advocate for fair representation and for a process that lets voters hold their elected officials accountable by promoting competitive districts and the end of gerrymandering.
- Who should I contact for more information?
If you are interested in joining the movement, please contact Candalynn Johnson from the LWVOR office at Candalynn@lwvor.org. You can also find more information on our campaign website: www.redistrictingmatters.org/reform/ or the LWVOR study: lwvor.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Redistricting2007.pdf. For more resources check out the additional resources on the LWVOR website: http://lwvor.org/redistricting-in-oregon/