A group wants Oklahomans to change the way voting districts are set up in to be more transparent and, they said, less political.
The group filed its paperwork Monday with the Secretary of State’s Office. Members said it’s necessary because of the way the district lines are drawn right now, the deck is stacked for the politicians and against the voters.
Just looking at the way districts are set up in the Oklahoma City-Metro area for House of Representatives seats, you can see the problem. Districts look like someone dumped a plate of spaghetti on a map.
“Right now, politicians draw lines for their own gain and to get reelected. And we don’t know how they do it. They do it behind closed doors in a dark room, and this would allow us, the public, to see how those lines are drawn,” said Andy Moore with “People Not Politicians.”
Jan Largent with the “Oklahoma League of Women Voters” added, “The dominant party is able to go behind closed doors and draw the lines, and most of us don’t know what’s going on until the maps come out.”
So, the group “People not Politicians” filed a petition to amend the constitution to create an independent redistricting commission. The commission would be made up of nine people of different parties chosen by a panel of appellate justices.
“So, they’re drawn in accordance with federal law, and then with respect to communities of interest, existing political boundaries, in a way that is fair and transparent,” said Moore.
House Speaker Charles McCall (R) released the following statement:
“This petition is a solution in search of a problem in a state like Oklahoma that has not had problems with or successful lawsuits over its redistricting process. The convoluted 14-page process the petitioners want makes the system more complicated and less accountable to voters. The existing process is much simpler and more accountable because the buck stops with the legislators who the voters can keep or replace depending on how they feel about their work. The petition is unnecessary because the people can already challenge redistricting plans under our Constitution, and ultimately the people maintain their accountability over the process through their election or replacement of their legislators.”
The group will have to gather 178,000 signatures to have the initiative placed on the 2020 ballot.
Once the Secretary of State’s Office sets a date, the group will have 90 days to gather the signatures.