Organization refiles petition to end gerrymandering in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) —An organization that wants to end gerrymandering in Oklahoma has filed an updated initiative petition.

In November, organizers with ‘People not Politicians’ announced that they wanted to create a citizens redistricting commission.

“We are seeking to end gerrymandering in Oklahoma,” People not Politicians Executive Director Andy Moore told KFOR.

Gerrymandering occurs when district boundaries are redrawn in hopes of giving one political candidate the edge over another. The boundaries, which are based on population, are currently drawn by Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

“The district you live in were drawn by somebody else for the intent for them to get reelected. That’s not fair,” Moore said.

Instead, the group said a nine-person panel that was split evenly between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should be the one to draw the lines.

“Oklahomans should be in charge of drawing those districts in a way that represents the people of Oklahoma,” Moore said.

House Speaker Charles McCall called the petition “convoluted” and “in search of a problem,” saying it would “make the system more complicated and less accountable to voters.”

When COVID-19 began spreading throughout Oklahoma, the organization says it wasn’t able to secure the signatures needed to qualify for a 2020 ballot.

On Monday, People Not Politicians announced that it will begin the initiative petition process again with hopes of making a 2022 ballot.

“Our goal is to put this measure to a vote of the people as quickly as we can so that we can end partisan gerrymandering once and for all. Oklahomans have had to suffer with gerrymandered maps drawn by politicians for long enough; voters deserve to have fair maps drawn by an independent commission of Oklahoma citizens who don’t have a conflict of interest with the outcome,” said Andy Moore, executive director of People Not Politicians. “With an independent redistricting commission, politicians will be held accountable to their constituents — the everyday businessmen, teachers, pastors and veterans that live in our communities and aren’t running for re-election.”

Legislative redistricting takes place every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census data.

“We believe swift action is needed for the redistricting committee to make real and meaningful contributions to Oklahoma’s democracy. We cannot endure 10 more years of unfair maps,” said Jan Largent, president of League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. “An independent redistricting commission will ensure all communities are represented fairly and all votes are treated equally. Politicians will be held accountable to engage with their constituents, fix problems facing our communities and stop being beholden to only the most powerful and rich.”

Now, the organization will work to gather 177,958 signatures to qualify for a 2022 ballot.

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