Every 10 years, the Legislature is constitutionally required to redraw Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional district boundaries to reflect population changes following the decennial census. This is to ensure that all lawmakers represent a fairly equal number of constituents and each citizen’s voice is equally represented at our State Capitol.
For the first time in state history, all 101 House members served on one of eight Regional Redistricting Subcommittees to ensure representation of all House districts in the process.
The subcommittees held 22 town hall meetings – 18 in person and four virtual – from December to March to solicit input from the public. All Oklahomans could attend, ask questions, submit testimony and talk to lawmakers and staff about what makes the most sense for their community.
The House also used a dedicated email address and website to accept public comment, answer questions and keep the public informed throughout the redistricting process.
We anticipated a delay in receiving our final data from the U.S. Census Bureau because of the pandemic, which extended the deadline to submit data. We are being told we will receive those numbers around mid-August. Once we have those numbers, we’ll come back for a special session to approve any changes to the redistricting maps.
Unfortunately, we could not delay drawing our maps because the Oklahoma Constitution says legislative boundaries must be redrawn during the session. As such, we worked our maps off the most recent data we had available, which was the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Communities Survey.
Lawmakers will return for special session after we’ve received final data to draw congressional boundaries and can make changes to the state legislative districts if needed.
Oklahoma’s population is about 3,932,900 people. To find the ideal number of people per district, we divided that by the number of House districts we have – 101 – to get about 38,939 people per district.
All 101 House districts were redrawn to be within the 5% (+/-2.5%) population deviation standard set by the House Redistricting Committee. With our current map, there was only a 3.7% population deviation, so we don’t expect any major changes.
Our current data from the U.S. Census Bureau tells us Oklahomans are moving from rural areas to urban areas, so there are less people living in rural Oklahoma in 2020 than in 2010 when our districts were last redrawn.
Given this information, rural Oklahoma has lost at least one seat entirely, and several others have shifted significantly toward urban areas. House District 36, in the Sand Springs area northwest of Tulsa, is expected to move to eastern Oklahoma County.
Under the proposed redistricting maps, House District 51 does have some changes. While most of the district remains the same, House District 51 would lose its sliver of McClain County, as well as Velma-Alma in Stephens County, but would gain Rush Springs in Grady County and Central High in Stephens County.
It’s important to note that districts were drawn without voter registration data to avoid gerrymandering concerns..
Even once the maps are approved, they will not go into effect until after the 2022 elections, so I will continue to represent my current district until the next election. However, the next election will be based on the voters in the new district.
I hate to lose the McClain Co. voters as well as the Velma-Alma constituents who I’ve really enjoyed working with over the past few years, but they will be in great hands with Rep. Sherrie Conley and Rep. Marcus McEntire. However, I am also very excited for the possibility of picking up the communities of Central High and Rush Springs in the future!
The proposed maps for each district and for the entire state can be viewed at okhouse.gov/Publications/PropDistMaps.aspx.
Please feel free to reach out to my office to share thoughts on the proposed map or legislation. It’s truly an honor to represent House District 51—God bless!