By Justin Lofton
ADA—Oklahoma House of Representative members said state redistricting would be taking place this year using information obtained by the decennial census.
At a Monday evening meeting at Pontotoc Technology Center, representatives and house staff discussed the process involved in redistricting.
“Oklahoma Legislature is required to redraw state legislative lines every ten years following the decennial census,” Arnella Karges, house staff member, said. She said the House of Representative district lines would have to be redrawn, along with state Senate lines. She said redistricting was not the same as reapportionment—which determines how many representatives and senators from each state will be sent to represent their states in United States Congress. Instead, she said the main point of redistricting is to ensure that a nearly equal number of Oklahoma residents are in each district.
“Equal population is the number one goal,” Karges said. Other guiding principles in redistricting include compactness, contiguity (all parts of a district have to touch), preservation of political subdivisions (i.e. counties and municipalities), communities of interest, preservation of cores of prior districts, and compliance with section two of the Voting Rights Act (no dilution of minority populations).
Karges said the house would use similar redistricting guidelines as the senate. She said average district population was approximately 34,165 in 2000 and was estimated to be approximately 36,506 per district in 2009.
State Representative Paul Roan said he expected population shifts to move toward more urban areas.
“I think you’re going to see the rural dstricts be a little larger in land area,” he said. Representatives Dale DeWitt and Lisa Billy also attended the meeting.
Redistricting data must be provided to Oklahoma residents by April 1, 2011.