Congressional redistricting: Cause for Concern?

The redistricting used in the 103rd, 107th and 108th  (1994, 2002, 2004) United States Congresses rearranged the political map in favor of Republican politics — a move likely to frequently cause problems in the year to come. In most states, the state legislature determines the district boundaries. Shaping these boundaries, however, may be done for political advantage. Redistricting is supposed to reflect changes in population in such a way that an area with a high population density exerts less influence on a potentially larger area with a lower population density. Generally, a state attempts to redistrict in such a way that each district has nearly the same population.

Oregon redistricted in 2002 when each district had about 684,000 people respectively. Today, Oregon, some believe, may gain another district in 2011 based on results from the 2010 Census. Currently, Oregon’s 2nd congressional district, currently represented by Ron Wyden, is the state’s largest in terms of land area comprising all of eastern Oregon, most of central Oregon and most of southern Oregon.

Used as a political tool, redistricting generally means splitting an area with a higher number of Oregon’s minority party and adding them to areas with a higher population of the majority party. This effects how state Representatives to congress are selected but not the number of state Representatives.

With Oregon likely to gain a 6th congressional district, Democrats, for example, could try to split up districts in such a way that the district will have a Democrat majority more likely to vote for a Democrat Representative to send to Washington D.C. Oregon has a pretty evenly divided state senate and so any redistricting that occurs probably won’t be so underhanded however we are just one of fifty states in the Union.

Some states will gain districts and others will lose them. Republicans picked up a lot of seats on state legislatures across the country. Oregon is pretty well insulated against very under-handed redistricting, but some other states may not be. Both parties will try to leverage any advantage they can from this offensively or defensively to control as much a voice as possible in the US House of Representatives.



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