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Redrawing the Battle Lines

Pete Springer/OPB

The last time we talked about redistricting, the legislature had just started its session. Hopes were high for bi-partisan cooperation. Now that the two sides’ first efforts — along with a Democratic revision — are available, we’re returning to the topic to see where the conversation is now.

Redistricting is the once-every-ten-years process by which the Legislature attempts to draws the boundaries for U.S. congressional districts, along with their own state house and senate districts. If you’re new to this, you’re in luck. The Portland City Club is currently studying the issue, and they’ve put together a handy distillation (pdf) of how the process works for legislative districts:

The Legislature must propose its redistricting plan by July 1, 2011. The Constitution also gives the Oregon Supreme Court original jurisdiction to review redistricting enacted by the Legislature. If the Legislature fails to complete the task in a timely manner, if the governor vetoes the plan, or if the Supreme Court rejects the proposed redistricting plan, the secretary of state has 45 days to propose new districts for review by the Supreme Court. The redistricting plan must be finalized by the end of 2011.

The process is slightly different for congressional districts. Basically, they’re handled directly by the Oregon Supreme Court. What all of this has meant in practice, as the City Club notes, is that “[n]ot since 1911 has the Oregon Legislature produced a redistricting plan that has taken effect.”

Will 2011 be different?

There is already a great deal of partisan unhappiness with the proposals from the left and the right, as well as a Republican lawsuit.

What do you make of the various plans? (The Oregon House maps are here; the Congressional maps are here.)

How do you define “communities of common interest,” which state law says shouldn’t be divided? Do you think you’re already grouped with such a community? If not, what kind of changes would you like to see?

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