OKLAHOMA CITY — On November 1st the Oklahoma legislature released their proposals for the new Congressional map along with updated maps for the state House and Senate. While the legislative maps are mostly acceptable, the Congressional map is an egregious power grab by the majority party. To say it another way: We now know what a gerrymandered Oklahoma looks like.
Here are the “low-lights” of the proposed Congressional map:
The map looks eerily similar to the one proposed in 1991 that was deemed to be a “Democratic gerrymander” by Republicans at the time - so why do Republicans think it’s acceptable for them to do the same thing now?
Because gerrymandering isn’t a partisan issue - it’s a power issue. This is exactly why politicians shouldn’t be allowed to draw their own districts!
Under the politicians’ plan, the 5th district spans six counties instead of just one. In exchange, it divides Oklahoma County down the middle, splitting it between three different Congressional districts. People who can see the State Capitol from their front porch will be lumped in with people who can see Texas, New Mexico and Kansas, and residents of Midwest City will be joined with readers of Lawton’s Southwest Ledger. In short, these districts don’t make sense.
While there is obviously a partisan bias in how the proposed map was drawn, perhaps the most appalling aspect of the CD5 gerrymander is that it is clearly designed to diminish the voice of the Hispanic/Latino community in Congressional elections. According to the 2020 Census data, there are 153,498 Hispanic residents in Oklahoma County, nearly all of whom currently live (and vote) in CD5. Under the legislature’s proposed map, more than half (56%) of the Hispanic population from Oklahoma County will be drawn into CD3, which is the large, heavily rural Congressional district that covers northern and western Oklahoma, all the way out to the panhandle.
The only people who approve of (and benefit from) the proposed Congressional map are politicians. When politicians are allowed to draw their own districts, they draw them to ensure they get reelected, and when their reelection is a sure-thing, it means they aren’t truly accountable to voters. When politicians intentionally cut out an entire community, it’s because that community represents a threat to their power. We must remember that in a democratic republic, power is supposed to rest with the voters—not with politicians.
On November 15th the legislature will convene for a special session to vote on these proposed maps. The maps will basically become bills that must move through the legislative process - first through committee, then pass the floor, then repeat those steps in the opposite chamber, then to the Governor for his signature. This means we must join forces and act quickly to prevent these maps from being approved.
Now is the time for Oklahoma voters to use their power. The map isn’t approved just yet—we still have time to speak up for those voices who are being silenced and speak out against ridiculous gerrymandering.