Choosing an independent commission to redraw Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 census may appeal to frustrated Democrats, but in the end it probably won’t make much difference in the partisan distribution of the state’s lawmakers, said Andy Moore.
“People have told me, ‘This is about flipping districts,’ ” Moore said after a presentation in Tulsa on Thursday night. “What districts are there to flip?”
Moore, the executive director of a coalition seeking to put a redistricting commission on the ballot next November, told about 35 people at Wilson Teaching and Learning Academy that the real goal is fairness and transparency.
“Right now the process is in the hands of the state Legislature,” Moore said. “They get to draw them however they like. They quite literally go into a back room with whatever data they want, whatever consultants or experts they want, and draw whatever lines they want.
“The maps are supposed to be drawn to reflect where we live, … not where the politicians live,” he said.
Moore showed several examples of legislative districts that seem to have been drawn after the 2010 census to protect incumbents or, in a few cases, make them more vulnerable.
The result is districts that divide small towns in rural areas among two or three districts or assume bizarre shapes in urban ones.
According to Moore, the problem is not that the districts protect one party over another but that they combine voters with little in common — farmers in northwestern Oklahoma, for instance, with suburbanites in Yukon in District 3.
The part of Tulsa that is in Osage County also is part of District 3, which touches the far southwestern corner of the state and includes the Oklahoma Panhandle.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Moore said. “This is a power issue. The people in power sometimes try to make it a partisan issue.”