Guest Column

The task of redistricting each decade is a tremendous responsibility. It deserves a thoughtful process that is aligned with statutory and constitutional requirements, and is informed by robust public input.

As members of the Oregon Senate and House committees on redistricting, we share a commitment to those values throughout this process.

Every 10 years, based on census data, states are tasked with a process known as redistricting, where electoral lines, also known as district lines, are redrawn. These lines must meet the highest of legal standards and ensure fair representation.

While redistricting is never an easy process, this year we are experiencing unique challenges. The pandemic delayed the release of census data by several months. And due to the public health risk of the highly infectious delta variant that is crowding our local hospitals, we took public testimony virtually instead of touring the state. This was disappointing, but necessary to keep Oregonians safe in the face of the worst public health crisis of our lifetime and made the process even more accessible for Oregonians in new ways.

In the face of these challenges, we have remained nimble while ensuring inclusivity is at the forefront of our work. The result has been a remarkably transparent and accessible redistricting process, like none other Oregon has seen before.

Our committees joined together and held 10 public hearings prior to the release of census data so we could be informed by Oregonians’ voices early on. We heard about how their communities have changed over the past 10 years and what common interests they share. We had exceptional turnout, and heard from diverse voices.

Members of the redistricting committees have used this testimony along with 2020 census data to shape the maps, which were proposed on Sept. 3.

We’re now in the midst of 12 additional hearings where Oregonians are responding specifically to the proposed maps. This will allow us to learn how individuals and whole communities will be impacted by the Legislature’s proposed electoral lines. As of Sept. 9, we’ve heard from over 330 Oregonians. Over the past week we’ve heard from Oregonians across regions and on Monday, Sept. 13, we invite all Oregonians to share their views in one of two statewide public hearings, which take place at 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

If you want to testify, sign up at www.oregonlegislature.gov/redistricting.

If you’d like to submit your testimony in writing, the deadline is Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

While doing our part to keep communities safe, we’ve found ways to ensure broad participation and access to this significant process. We are proud to offer translation, interpretation, captions and options to participate at a kiosk outside of the Capitol, over the phone or on a computer, as well as a recorded live stream. We also made our line-drawing tool available to the public, access that just 12 states in the country have offered, giving residents a hands-on ability to adjust lines and submit proposals to our committees.

Each letter submitted to the committee, every map proposed and voice that comes forward ensure we are informed on Oregonians’ unique insight about their communities.

We are all proud to call Oregon home. We will work to create bridges rather than divisions through this process and are committed to producing electoral maps that allow for fair representation of our great state.

We encourage you Oregonians to stay involved and share your view as we complete this critical task. We can’t do it without you.

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Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, is a member of the Senate Committee on Redistricting; Rep. Khanh Pham, D-Portland, and Rep. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, are members of the House Committee on Redistricting.

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