Every 10 years, the idea of redistricting starts with the perception that partisans will draw crazy looking maps that will create chaos and corruption in order to solidify some kind of political advantage.

It’s called gerrymandering, and it’s when a political group tries to change a voting district to create a result that helps them or hurts the group who is against them.

We heard that kind of speculation brought up before the 2020 Census, and groups began posturing to fight against or take advantage of any real or perceived chaos caused by the mapmakers working for the Oklahoma Legislature in redrawing districts to match the 2020 Census changes.

Surprisingly, Oklahoma’s political leaders seem to have provided some fairly common-sense boundaries for the coming 10 years. Or, so it seems. The problem is, we don’t know yet and cannot know yet because the federal government has not yet provided the final outcome of the 2020 Census.

In fact, the nationwide snapshot of who lived where on April 1, 2020, will not be available until Aug. 16, 2021. Unless that date is postponed again, that is.

When, and only when, the final census numbers (by block or census tract) are available, can the final boundaries be drawn. That’s when the Oklahoma Legislature can give final approval to state House and Senate districts and then Oklahoma’s five congressional districts.

While few surprises are expected, this process has been dragging on and will even require a special fall legislative session. But, wait, there’s more. Oklahoma’s 77 counties then will need to draw new county commission districts.

Cities and school districts with board members elected by wards or districts may get in on the fun, too. Then, county election officials will have the tedious task of drawing new precinct lines, trying to avoid precincts that overlap multiple voting districts wherever possible.

So while the preliminary part of the process seems to have gone smoothly, a lot of work remains.

It is ultimately a worthy and necessary exercise. A representative democracy requires this kind of process and detail work to function with credibility.

Enid News & Eagle

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