The US Census official report shocked the Oklahoma lawmakers. The state found out that the annual estimates of Oklahoma's population shifts were way off. Randy Krehbiel has been following this matter for the Tulsa World. Yesterday we spoke in depth about what his research has revealed about both the U.S. congressional districts and the state legislature.
Krehbiel contends that almost every metropolitan district needs another redrawing. For our perspective, Randy Krehbiel is perhaps the most respected Oklahoma journalist on govt & politics. He says that of Tulsa County's 20-something state House districts, only HD 78 (east central Tulsa) is within the mandated accuracy of population in order to comply with the constitutional requirement for equal protection of rights(US 14th Amendment).
The US Constitution stipulates that every 10 years these boundaries must be redrawn by the state legislatures.
Last year the US Census agency announced that due to Covid concerns, they were unable to complete the official report prior to the 2021 legislative session.
Oklahoma lawmakers then decided to put their trust in the annual estimates that the US Census releases every year. But that proved to be a bad bet when in comes to population shifts across the state.
Oklahoma has become vastly more 'urbanized' than the US Census was reporting. Case in point: Oklahoma's 2 urban congressional districts now are vastly over-populated and must shrink their boundaries. CD 2 & 3 are vastly under-populated and need to expand their boundaries toward the suburban areas.
What hasn't gotten enough attention, is how county, municipal, and school boards are now tasked with redrawing their districts.
Gov. Stitt is expected to call the Oklahoma Legislature into special session sometime in November. This process needs to be conducted swiftly, because every county election board will then be tasked with adjusting precincts to reflect the new boundaries. It becomes very difficult to conduct elections at the precinct polling place when that precinct overlaps 2 or more districts, whether they be school board seats, city council seats, county commission seats, state legislative seats, or US Congress seats.
Citizens are not able to file as candidates for district offices until all these map issues are fully resolved and potentially upheld in any legal challenges in state or federal courts.
Ten years ago, Texans lost their voting franchise in the presidential primary, because the Texas redistricting maps were challenged at length, in court litigation. When Texans eventually did get to hold a presidential preference primary, the nomination was already secured by Mitt Romney.