Salem, OR—Today, the Oregon Department of Justice on behalf of Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, filed a response to the Oregon Legislature’s petition for a writ of mandamus, related to state Legislative redistricting, with the Oregon Supreme Court: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/ORSOS/...
Secretary Fagan’s response notes that the Legislature’s requested delays in redistricting timelines for state Legislative maps will require moving the 2022 primary elections in all 36 counties and numerous other elections-related deadlines. The response demonstrates that the Legislature can access quality population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s partner in Oregon, the Population Research Center, and can use that data to produce redistricting maps without delay, leaving opportunities to incorporate Census data when it becomes available.
“As Oregon’s chief elections officer, I am responsible for safeguarding the elections process for all Oregonians. I am deeply concerned about the ability of our state’s county clerks to administer stable, predictable elections next year if the Legislature is successful in moving deadlines and changing 2022 election dates,” Secretary Fagan said. “As detailed in our response, moving the 2022 May primary would strain county and state resources and risk significant voter confusion at a time when it is more important than ever for us to build and maintan public trust in our elections. We owe it to Oregonians to do everything we can to fulfill our constitutional obligation on time and without impacting the 2022 elections.”
In the filing, Interim Oregon Elections Director Brenda Bayes detailed the list of potential impacts on the state’s 2022 election cycle if state Legislative redistricting dates are allowed to be pushed out 60 days after the redistricting data arrives. Those potential impacts include:
• Shifting dates could affect the primary and general election in 2022;
• The expense of substantial time and resources spent informing voters and candidates about the changes to long established election dates and related deadlines;
• The risk that candidates file and run in a May primary for a district with boundaries that change, disqualifying them from seeking office;
• Potential for disproportionate harm to candidates with fewer financial resources;
• Significant technical reprogramming costs for state and county governments; and
• The potential to inflame misinformation and distrust in elections.
Each decade, states are required to redraw boundaries for state Legislative and federal Congressional districts to account for population changes. Oregon’s state Legislative redistricting process is detailed in Article IV, section 6 of the Oregon Constitution. The Constitution gives the Oregon Legislature clear authority over the process, with the Secretary of State as a backstop if, for some reason, the Legislature is unable to complete its process. The process for federal Congressional redistricting, which redraws Oregon’s district boundaries for the United States House of Representatives, is guided by state law with the Oregon Supreme Court as a backstop. The Secretary of State has no role in federal Congressional redistricting, which is not addressed in the Legislature’s petition.
View the Secretary of State's response.