[Ed. note: Do not stop at her signature! There is more to read]
Friends and neighbors,
Redistricting and reapportionment are terms with which most people aren't familiar but they describe the process of drawing legislative and congressional boundaries, which the state is required to do every 10 years following the census.
The House Redistricting Committee on which I serve has begun public hearings on proposed legislative maps. More details on how and when to sign up are in this newsletter, but the hearings have started so now is the time! We want to hear your concerns regarding where to move state Senate and House district boundaries, as well as where to put Oregon's new 6th congressional district.
No matter where you land on the political spectrum, you need the opportunity to be able to elect someone who represents you and not someone who is diametrically opposed to your world view. When done right, redistricting follows statutory guidelines laid out by state law.
Gerrymandering, which is opposed by the vast majority of Oregonians, occurs when these rules are ignored and maps are drawn to game the system for partisan advantage. Gerrymandering cheats democracy and denies representation. Oregonians deserve maps that allow them to choose who represents them. They deserve fair maps.
With public input and accountability, the Legislature will have the opportunity to reject gerrymandering and commit to producing fair maps that follow the law.
Maps under consideration by the committee are identified as Plans A, B, and C. Some of these plans propose substantial changes to who may represent you in the future and how communities are both divided and combined in congressional and legislative districts. We need your input on these proposed new boundaries — does the proposed new district divide communities of common interest? Does the district follow geographic and political boundaries? Was the district drawn for partisan advantage? Are the districts close in population? These are just a few of the standards in Oregon law that are intended to ensure fair maps are adopted by the legislature. Your participation offers the accountability we need to protect the integrity of the redistricting process. Please consider participating to share your concerns and priorities.
Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of legislative districts. Where these lines should go is determined by census data and where populations have grown or shrunk. This process takes place every ten years after a national census is taken.
Redistricting for the Oregon legislature is governed by the Oregon Constitution (Article IV, Section 6) and by statute (ORS 188.010).
Essentially, the law says redistricting is managed by the legislature. If they fail to complete the task, or if the Governor vetoes the legislative plan, the job of drawing legislative boundaries goes to the Secretary of State and congressional maps to the Courts. Legislative redistricting plans produced either by lawmakers or the Secretary of State are also subject to legal challenge in the Oregon Supreme Court.
House Republicans have an equal number of Representatives on the House Redistricting Committee and will be focused on the following statutory criteria per ORS188.010 to ensure a fair and honest process:
(1) Each district, as nearly as practicable, shall:
(a) Be contiguous;
(b) Be of equal population;
(c) Utilize existing geographic or political boundaries;
(d) Not divide communities of common interest; and
(e) Be connected by transportation links.
(2) No district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person.
(3) No district shall be drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group.
(4) Two state House of Representative districts shall be wholly included within a single state senatorial district.
Once redistricting is complete, the new districts will be in effect for the 2022 elections. To learn more about redistricting, visit: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/redistricting.
Another large part of the redistricting process is reapportionment. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, apportionment is defined as, "The process of assigning seats in a legislative body among pre-existing political subdivisions such as states or counties." They continue to explain that, "In the past, some states assigned districts on the basis of county boundaries and therefore continue to call their redistricting process by the name of apportionment." Reapportionment is what triggers the redrawing of lines based on population growth. For example, because Oregon's population has grown since the last census, Oregon was granted another congressional seat.
If you're interested in doing a deeper dive on redistricting, check out this page from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Oregon has 60 House and 30 Senate districts. Each Senate district contains two House districts with House members serving two year terms and Senators four years. Oregon also has five congressional representatives in Washington, DC. But Oregon has grown. That increasing population will result in a sixth congressional seat and reapportionment will determine the boundaries of the new district. The number of seats in Salem will remain unchanged, but the population in each House district will increase to roughly 70,000.
The census provides the basis for congressional apportionment, states' votes in the Electoral College, and redistricting for congressional, legislative and local electoral districts. It also determines how much federal money gets distributed to the states and it shapes how businesses and policymakers make decisions.
- Oregon Resident Population: 4,237,256
- Average Population per Congressional District: 706,209
- Average Population per Oregon Senate District: 141,242
- Average Population per Oregon House District: 70,621
What criteria do states use across the country to draw district lines?
The people of Oregon will have the opportunity to weigh in during public meetings.
As you consider what is important to you regarding redistricting, here is a collection of the different criteria required to be used in Oregon when drawing legislative and congressional district lines:
- Contiguity (requirement): All parts of a district being connected at some point with the rest of the district.
- Preservation of counties and other political subdivisions (requirement): This refers to not crossing county, city, or town, boundaries when drawing districts.
- Intentionally or unduly favoring an incumbent, candidate, or party is prohibited under Oregon law.
It is vital that Oregonians take part in the process of redistricting.
That's why you're encouraged to take part in several public meetings that will be held by the House and Senate Redistricting Committees. Your concerns will impact boundaries, and without your participation it will be harder to draw district lines that accurately reflect your input. Oregon is at a high risk of gerrymandering, which would favor one political party over another. Strong public participation will hold politicians accountable.
The statewide redistricting tour planned for September is moving to a virtual format. Members of the public are invited to participate during one of the following virtual hearings to provide feedback on the proposed maps created by the House and Senate Interim Redistricting Committees. They are available now.
You can sign up to testify remotely by selecting the meeting link appropriate to your congressional district at this link, or at the links below. You can find out which congressional district you live in by using this tool from the Oregon Legislative website.
Once signed up, you will receive a link to testify in your email. On the date you signed up for, log on 15 minutes prior to your assigned time by clicking that link in your email. When it is your turn to testify, the chair of the committee will call your name.
The best way to view maps are through this interactive site. Once opened, you will see an Oregon map with county outlines.
- Click on the "Show Contents of Map" button on the left (the list icon under "Details" tab).
- Click the drop-down arrow (not the check mark) to the left of "Committee Proposals".
You can click on any of these to view the plans. You'll see gray and pink lines — gray is county, pink is district lines.
It might be helpful to view county, city, or school district boundaries — or current House/Senate lines — these can all be viewed under the “Oregon Reference Layers." You can zoom in to see areas that are interesting to you. I encourage you to zoom into where you live, look at your community, and let the committee know your thoughts.
You can also view the maps in PDF format from the committee meeting materials on OLIS, located here.
CD 4 at 8am: Includes part of Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, part of Josephine, Lane, and Linn counties — Click here to sign up
CD 5 at 1pm: Includes part of Benton, part of Clackamas, Lincoln, Marion, part of Multnomah, Polk, and Tillamook counties — Click here to sign up
CD 1 at 5:30pm: Click here to sign up
CD 2 at 8am: Click here to sign up
CD 3 at 1pm: Click here to sign up
CD 4 at 5:30pm: Click here to sign up
CD 5 at 8am: Click here to sign up
1pm: The committee will hear from individuals residing in any district in the state — Click here to sign up
5:30pm: The committee will hear from individuals residing in any district in the state — Click here to sign up
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Written testimony may be submitted up to 24 hours after the meeting start time.
To provide written testimony, please email your comments to: [email protected]
Be sure to incorporate which congressional district you live in as the subject line of the email. To find out what district you live in follow this link and enter your address in the box above "Find Who Represents Me".
Redistricting information and website
In order for this process to work, we need to hear the voices of Oregonians. The public meetings are your chance to discuss with legislators what's most important to you for redistricting.
Following the hearings, Committees will make final recommendations which are scheduled to be voted on by the legislature in a Special Session. This session is tentatively scheduled for September 20.
How Can I Help You?
If I can ever be of any assistance to you, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. You can reach me at: