2 Lawsuits Filed Against Redistricting Petition

Tuesday, November 19th 2019, 9:37 am
By: Grant Hermes

A pair of lawsuits were filed in state appellate court late last week, alleged a petition to change redistricting is unconstitutional.

The petition for state question 804 is being run by the group People not Politicians. The lawsuits claim SQ 804 violates the state constitution and first amendment rights of Oklahomans.

The petition would change how redistricting works or how voters and neighborhoods are grouped together each decade, based on the US census.

Currently in Oklahoma, districts are drawn by the majority political party in the state legislature. In recent years that process, known as gerrymandering, has come under fire because it often splits communities into odd shapes in order to make sure the party in power stays in power through a process of dividing and grouping voters into districts; a process known as cracking and packing.

People Not Politicians wants to change the state constitution and give redistricting power over to an independent commission. However, those behind the lawsuits say the petition violates the rights of Oklahomans because it bars those who have served in office, who have immediate family who have served in office or who have worked for a major political party from serving on the commission, among other designations. The lawsuits claim that this is is a violation of the freedom of speech.

The lawsuits also allege the petition is too broad, violating the state's single subject rule. They also say it lacks detail, alleging it would prevent voters from making an informed decision.

In response to the suits, People Not Politicians Executive Director Andy Moore called the lawsuits frivolous and misguided

"It is wrong for politicians to pick their voters. Our initiative puts power back in the hands of the people and will make our state better," Moore said in a statement.

Five states have independent redistricting commissions. Six states have bipartisan political commissions, but most states allow the state legislature to set the district lines.

There is no date set for when the state supreme court could hear the challenges but redistricting does start next year.