Bend Bulletin: Should people or politicians decide redistricting?

Bend Bulletin: Should people or politicians decide redistricting?

7/16/2020

This article was originally published by the Bend Bulletin.

When Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, local chapters of the NAACP and business interests have lined up to support an initiative petition and the labor group Our Oregon and Planned Parenthood are lined up against it, it’s an unusual political fight in Oregon.

The battle is over Initiative Petition 57. It would change the Oregon Constitution to alter the way the state redraws the lines for congressional and legislative seats every 10 years. How those boundaries are drawn can tilt the political balance of the state. And the idea behind IP 57 is that people should be drawing the boundaries not politicians.

A committee of legislators draws the lines now. The secretary of state steps in if they can’t find agreement. And when one party is clearly in power in Oregon, as is now with the Democratic Party, its members can control the process.

What IP 57 would do is set up a different way to draw the lines. A 12-member commission would be made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and four people who are unaffiliated or members of a minor party. The work of the commission would be public. The hope is it would be more independent and fair. Presumably there would be less gerrymandering or drawing the boundaries to benefit one party.

The challenge for supporters is to get it on the ballot. It looked like they were going to fall short because of the difficulty of getting signatures during the pandemic. They sued. Because of a federal court decision, supporters have until Aug. 17 to turn in 58,789 valid signatures. The state is challenging that court decision.

If you want more information about the petition, go to peoplenotpoliticiansoregon.com.