Governor signs redistricting law
State gains one district after 2020 Census
Oct. 2, 2021 — On Sept. 27, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law the redistricting bills passed that day by the Oregon Legislature.
Earlier in the month, Brown called for a special legislative session in order to adopt new congressional maps. These changes are constitutionally mandated to take place every 10 years after the completion of the Census.
The 2020 Census showed an increase in Oregon’s population from 3,831,079 to 4,217,737, which necessitated the increase in state districts.
State law requires that congressional and state legislative districts meet the following criteria:
- Districts must be contiguous.
- Districts must "utilize existing geographic or political boundaries."
- Districts should not "divide communities of common interest."
- Districts should "be connected by transportation links."
- Districts "must not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent or other person."
The deadline for completing the redistricting was midnight on Sept. 27, and Brown was the first governor in the nation to sign into law a state’s new district map.
Oregon is comprised of 30 state Senate districts and 60 state House districts. Each Senate district comprises two House districts. State senators are elected every four years in partisan elections. State representatives are elected every two years in partisan elections.
“For the first time in 40 years, Oregon is gaining a congressional seat — another delegation member to advocate for the common good of all Oregonians. After the past year and a half, during which Oregonians have faced unprecedented challenges that have urgently required federal attention and resources, I am particularly grateful that the Legislature has come together to pass today’s historic legislation,” Brown said at the signing ceremony. “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.”
There have been bumps in the road to approving the new redistricting map, as an original panel made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, originally tasked with the redrawing, was reformed with a majority of Democrats impaneled.
Danny Moran, communication director for Oregon’s Speaker of the House Kate Kotek, said, "The bipartisan committee created many opportunities for good-faith negotiations. The speaker is disappointed that after many months of work, House Republicans did not engage constructively despite many attempts to address their concerns."
Republicans disagreed with this assessment of the problems encountered by the equally split panel and suggested they were misled by the majority.
“We’ve been cheated; we’ve been had," said Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles said. "I don’t know if that makes me a sucker, but if it does, I will be a sucker with integrity and character."
In her statements after the signing of Senate Bills 881 and 882, Brown chose to focus on the end result of the process.
“The right to vote is sacred. In Oregon, we know that every vote matters because every voice matters in our electoral process,” she said. “I’d like to thank the Legislature for coming together, through adversity, to pass legislation for redistricting. We do not always all agree, but when we find common ground, we can work together to do what is best for Oregon.”
The map was approved by the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16 and approved in the Oregon State Senate 18-6.The map takes effect for Oregon’s 2022 legislative elections.