An effort to end gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts got a setback Monday, but supporters say they aren’t through yet.
People Not Politicians had filed an initiative petition that proposed State Question 804, which would have taken the legislative and congressional redistricting process away from the Oklahoma Legislature. A citizen-led independent redistricting commission would have taken over the responsibility with instructions to create districts that are fair and logical, not based on the partisan aims of any party.
The proposal was challenged before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled Monday that it was constitutional. However, the court struck down the petition after finding the proposed synopsis, or gist, that would appear on petitions didn’t adequately describe the proposal.
Legislative leaders who oppose the proposal were quick to celebrate the decision, and emphasize that they think there is no need to change the process.
But the ruling seems less than fatal to the drive for reapportionment reform. People Not Politicians says it will revise its petition using the guidance offered by the Supreme Court ruling and refile it. Another legal challenge could be expected to follow, but having already survived the best first shot opponents had, we wouldn’t bet against the second pitch.
Oklahoma legislative and congressional districts have been gerrymandered for partisan advantage for as long as there have been Oklahoma legislative and congressional districts. The result of that manipulation is that some parts of the state have disproportionate, undemocratic strength.
The Supreme Court’s ruling means there’s still a decent chance that Oklahoma voters will get an opportunity to consider a new mechanism to make our elections a better reflection of our state.