2010-06-21

Oregon Prop 50

Oregon Prop 50 bill text

A few comments:
This independent Commission is made up entirely of semi-retired judges. I think that's a weird demographic and possibly a small pool to select from.

Their list of criteria (no explicit priority precedence, but maybe this order implies priority):
(6)(a) Each district, as nearly as practicable, shall:
(A) Be contiguous;
(B) Be of equal population;
(C) Utilize existing geographic or political boundaries;
(D) Not divide communities of common interest; and
(E) Be connected by transportation links.
Ok, nothing revolutionary there. The messy bits will come in when it does become time to run out of "nearly practicable" and break some things from parts C, D and E. Which things get broken where could be the difference between a fair map and a mess.

(6)(b) "No district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person."
(6)(c) "No district shall be drawn for the purpose of affecting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group."

(6)(c) may be the snake in the grass the NAACP feared with these new independent commission laws. This clause might be read to prevent affecting the racial mix of districts in either direction. Affirmative action gerrymanders forbidden. Though, in Oregon this isn't a big issue right now - the blackest district is less than 1%.
Also, I think intention based law is bait for messy suits. Concrete effects are much easier to measure and judge. They're doing a little to short-circuit that by making all appeals go directly to the state supreme court. Their decision is final, boom, done.

The Commission is empaneled by January 31, the Census has its data out by April 1, and the Commission has to have out a preliminary plan two months later on June 1. They better be ready to go with good tools.

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