An initiative that would have turned over the legislative redistricting process to a nonpartisan committee of retired judges has failed to gather enough valid signatures, reports the Secretary of State's office.
The sponsors of Initiative 50 – also known as the Oregon Independent Redistricting Commission Amendment – have already launched a lawsuit aimed at the state's signature rejection process. Of the 114,973 signatures gathered for the initiative, 91,617 were deemed to be valid by the Oregon Secretary of State's Office. The petition needed at least 110,358 valid signatures to make it on the fall ballot.
Currently, the state legislature is charged with redrawing districts after each census. If the legislature fails to enact a redistricting plan, the task falls to the secretary of state. Supporters of Initiative 50 say the independent commission is a less-partisan way of deciding how districts are drawn, and legislators have an inherent conflict of interest. Essentially, say supporters, elected officials are picking their voters.
The lawsuit aimed at the Secretary of State's Office says the rules about valid signatures are more restrictive than the state law outlining those rules. Kevin Mannix, a frequent sponsor of initiative petitions who helped to write 50, told The Oregonian that sheets were thrown out because a gatherer wrote the wrong date or because the same address was listed with similar handwriting.