Federal District Court Grants People Not Politicians an Extension to Gather Signatures to End Gerrymandering

Norman Turrill, Chair, People Not Politicians, (503) 386-7996
Kathay Feng, Common Cause, (310) 880.6668

SALEM —  A federal district court issued a preliminary order granting People Not Politicians, a broad and diverse coalition to create an independent citizens commission for Oregon, relief to qualify its redistricting reform initiative for the November 2020 election. The judge’s order allows the Secretary of State to decide by 5:00pm Monday, July 13, 2020 to either accept People Not Politician’s signatures as submitted, or accept a reduced number of signatures to 58,789 and allow additional time to gather until August 17, 2020.

Judge Michael J. McShane in People Not Politicians v. Secretary of State Clarno ruled in favor of People Not Politicians which executed a no-contact statewide signature gathering campaign in order to qualify Initiative Petition 57 (IP 57) for the November 2020 ballot while observing Governor Kate Brown’s stay-at-home orders.

Judge McShane found that People Not Politicians exercised “reasonable diligence” in attempting to qualify for the ballot, specifically because of the hard work that the campaign did to do outreach, build a broad coalition and plan creatively to collect signatures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through direct mail to 500,000 households and grassroot volunteer efforts that included multiple methods of outreach to thousands of voters, People Not Politicians gathered signatures from over 64,000 voters who signed IP 57 and mailed it back to the campaign.

Activists in other states have successfully challenged state petition and signature laws.  In Arkansas, Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia, courts granted extensions of the signature submission deadline and/or reductions in the signature threshold and other relief. Building on those successes, People Not Politicians asked a federal district court in Oregon for similar relief on June 30.

Kathay Feng, Redistricting & Representation Director, Common Cause 
“We filed this lawsuit asking the Court to recognize the extreme and unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic and the burdens that the Governor’s orders placed on PNP’s First Amendment rights. Oregonians will now have a say on IP 57, giving people, not politicians, the ability to  just in time for the 2021 redistricting process.”

Norman Turrill, People Not Politicians
“People Not Politicians is fighting to enact redistricting reform before Oregon draws new maps in 2021. We forged ahead through this COVID crisis and implemented an unprecedented signature gathering program, bringing in tens of thousands of petitions from Oregonians in barely over one month.”

Initiative Petition 57, filed in November 2019, would create the Oregon Citizens Redistricting Commission and put redistricting in the hands of voters, not our politicians. The commission would consist of 12 Oregonians who applied and were selected from qualified applicants – four from the first largest political party, four from the second largest political party, and four others who are third party members or non-affiliated. Major donors to political candidates or parties would not be eligible. Neither would elected-officials, political party officials or their family members. Commissioners would be selected to represent the broad diversity of Oregonians.

The initiative campaign coalition has been led by the League of Women Voters of Oregon, Common Cause Oregon, Oregon Farm Bureau, the Independent Party of Oregon, NAACP Eugene/Springfield Branch, OSPIRG, Oregon’s Progressive Party, and tens of thousands of Oregonians who supported the effort to remove conflicts of interest from drawing of voter lines.

Steve Elzinga of Sherman, Sherman, Johnnie and Hoyt represented People Not Politicians in court. Common Cause attorneys Dan Vicuna, Suzanne Almeida, Kathay Feng, and law clerks Alton Wang and Michael Guggenheim, and Kecker Van Nest attorney Adam Lauridsen contributed to the briefs.
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