Redrawing district legislative lines

by Jessica Garvin

The bipartisan Senate and House Redistricting Committees have worked tirelessly for more than a year redrawing the maps for our state’s 48 Senate districts, 101 House districts and five congressional districts. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat, and the pandemic didn’t help matters.

The final U.S. Census population counts should have been received by the legislature in January but were delayed until August. This meant estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau had to be used for the legislative districts, so we could meet our constitutional deadline of having them approved by the end of session.

The congressional districts didn’t have to be completed during session, so the committees waited until the final numbers were received in August to continue their work.

Oklahomans should be proud of these committees and their work. This was the most open and transparent redistricting process in state history. More than 30 public town hall meetings were held around the state both in-person and virtually to ensure all Oklahomans could participate in this important process.

The public was also allowed to submit their ideas, comments, and concerns online as well as their own legislative and congressional maps for the committees’ consideration. 

Oklahoma’s population grew by 200,000 people or 5%, which is a significant increase. This growth wasn’t uniform across the state, but rather the urban areas, like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, saw tremendous growth while rural areas saw a decline or no change in their population. This shift in population is why we’re constitutionally required to redraw the districts every ten years after the U.S. Census. Overall, the proposed districts are more compact than the current legislative and congressional districts.

Each of the 48 proposed Senate districts has a target population of 82,487—a jump from the current estimated 78,153 citizens per Senate district. These districts received overwhelming, bipartisan support in May. However, they’ll have to be changed slightly due to the greater than expected urban area growth revealed in the final U.S. Census data.

For instance, Senate District 18 will move from northeastern Oklahoma to the Oklahoma City metropolitan area due to the unexpected growth in the Oklahoma City suburbs. The proposed Senate maps generally shift western districts slightly further toward the Oklahoma City area, and eastern districts somewhat further toward the Tulsa area. 

Unlike the legislative districts that must be within a certain percentage of the same population, the U.S. Constitution requires that congressional maps be drawn to within one person. For this reason, the proposed maps for Districts 1-3 have populations of 791,871, while Districts 4 and 5 have populations of 791,870 each. Under these proposed districts, 87% of Oklahomans will remain in the same district.

The new lines also will keep our major military bases and related military communities in the same congressional districts, protecting the multibillion-dollar investments in these areas.

The greatest changes are proposed in the Oklahoma City area. The proposed CD5 map would continue to receive the majority of its population from within Oklahoma City limits, while adding fast-growing suburban communities in Canadian, Logan and Lincoln Counties that, based on public input, commuter, and economic patterns, are considered key parts of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Oklahoma City will also have representation in two other districts just as it has for decades. 

CD1, in the Tulsa area, would become more compact by dropping Washington County and half of Wagoner County and adding Sapulpa in Creek County.

The state’s rural areas would continue to be divided into three districts largely similar to the current compositions of CDs 2, 3 and 4.

Special session is expected to be completed in one week. You can view the maps on the Senate website under “Redistricting”. All committee hearings and floor activity will also be livestreamed at www.oksenate.gov/live-proceedings.   

If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.



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