Report: Oregon’s congressional map receives an “F” grade

Oregon

Oregon’s 6 congressional district boundaries were signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, September 27, 2021 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon’s new congressional map is failing when it comes to partisan fairness and competitiveness, according to Princeton University’s Gerrymandering Project.

The project uses law, data and outreach to fight for “fair” districting in the United States. Jason Rhode, the national coordinator for the project, said that the university also has a program that analyzes and assigns letter grades to redistricting maps.

Oregon’s congressional map earned itself an “F” due to significant Democratic advantage and advantages to incumbents, the report said. The project also gave the map a failing grade because it’s “very uncompetitive relative to other maps that could have been drawn.”

“A gerrymandered map often produces a majority of districts that are not competitive, effectively guaranteeing electoral victories to members of only one party in these districts,” according to the report.

Oregon’s six congressional district boundaries were signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in September. The state grew from five districts to six because of population growth confirmed in the 2020 census, but Democrats and Republicans feel very differently about where that sixth district should be drawn.

Former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and three other Republicans later filed a lawsuit to challenge the new congressional districts, according to the Associated Press.

“State law is clear, gerrymandering is cheating,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan R-Canby in response to an announcement that the state legislative map will be challenged in court. “Oregon Democrats created a state legislative map that protects incumbents and punishes those who spoke out against their partisan power play. This legal action is an opportunity for Oregonians to get fair legislative maps.”

However, Oregon’s congressional map did receive a “C” geographic features from Princeton’s Gerrymandering Project. The project listed compact districts and typical number of county splits in the report.

A “C” grade is described as “average for the category, could be better, but could also be worse.”

A failing grade in the report is listed as poor for the category and could be much better.

The project calculates compactness by calculating average of all district values by a metric called the Reock score. According to the report, the score compares the area of the district to the area of the minimum circumscribing circle, or in other words, the smallest circle that entirely encapsulates the district.

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