Redistricting Matters, a reform coalition including Common Cause Oregon, placed an op-ed in The Oregonian backing two bills that would ensure that Oregon legislators cannot conduct redistricting behind closed doors without public input. HB2944 and HB2974 would mandate hearings across Oregon to allow the public to have a say both before and after the initial drawing of new legislative districts. Districts must be redrawn to keep up with population changes identified after each decennial census.
“Constituents are supposed to choose their representatives, but gerrymandering reverses that dictum -- allowing politicians to choose their voters. Moreover, redistricting can impact election results for a decade -- which in turn impacts public policies.
That's why transparency in the redistricting process, including citizens' ability to review and comment on redistricting plans, is crucial. Oregon lawmakers did an admirable job of redistricting in the last round in 2011; they held 16 public hearings on redistricting -- 13 before the plan was drafted, and three after. But there is nothing is state law requiring these hearings. It is simply up to the good will and fairness of lawmakers to see that they happen.
Two bills in the Oregon House this session, HB2944 and HB2974, would make these hearings mandatory.”