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Prof. Justin Levitt's Doug Spencer's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

State Summary

Oklahoma’s congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The legislature is also primarily responsible for drawing state legislative lines. If the legislature fails to pass a plan, authority falls to an seven-member backup commission. The Lieutenant Governor is the nonvoting chair of the commission; the Governor, state Senate majority leader, and state House majority leader each choose one Republican and one Democrat to serve as commissioners.

In the 2010 cycle, the Oklahoma legislature passed a congressional plan (HB 1527) on May 4, 2011, which was signed on May 10, 2011.  The legislature enacted state Senate (SB 821) and state House (HB 2145) plans on May 16, 2011; both were signed by the Governor on May 20, 2011.

One 2020 ballot initiative attempting to change the redistricting process was struck from the ballot based on an insufficient description.  [Newberry v. Moore, 458 P.3d 1080 (Okla. 2020)]  A follow-up initiative (Question 810 / Petition 426) was withdrawn on July 14, 2020, after failing to get enough signatures during the pandemic to make the 2020 ballot.  Question 815 / Petition 430 was pitched for the ballot in 2022, but withdrawn on Sept. 22, 2020.

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Seats: (projected)

Institution:

Drawn by:

Plan Status:

Party Control:
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Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Primary governing law

Okla. Const. art. V, §§ 9A11A

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Okla. Const. art. V, §§ 9A11A

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Okla. Const. art. V, §§ 9A11A

Data

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The Latest Updates

May 13, 2021
The Oklahoma Governor has signed HB 1198 and SB 1066, which implement the proposed maps for the House and Senate respectively. The proposed maps were drawn using the House and Senate redistricting guidelines.

Institution

Oklahoma’s congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto. The members of the state House and their responsibilities in redistricting are listed here. The members of the state Senate and their responsibilities in redistricting are listed here.

Oklahoma’s legislature is also primarily responsible for drawing state legislative lines. If the legislature fails to pass a plan, authority falls to an seven-member backup commission, newly in place in 2010. The Lieutenant Governor is the nonvoting chair of the commission; the Governor, state Senate majority leader, and state House majority leader each choose one Republican and one Democrat to serve as commissioners. [Okla. Const. art. V, § 11A]

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to hear challenges to state legislative plans in state court. [Okla. Const. art. V, § 11C]

Timing

Oklahoma state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Apr. 15, 2022. [Okla. Stat. tit. 26 § 5-110]  The legislative session is currently scheduled to begin on Feb. 1, 2021, and end on May 28, 2021.

The legislature’s deadline for drawing state legislative lines is 90 legislative days after the start of the first regular session following the census, scheduled to convene on Feb. 1, 2021.  If the legislature fails to pass a plan by then, the backup commission will be convened. [Okla. Const. art. V, § 11A]   Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Apr. 15, 2022. [Okla. Stat. tit. 26 § 5-110]

Oklahoma has announced that it intends to draw state legislative lines initially using five-year American Community Survey data, and will reconvene in special session if necessary to adjust those lines once 2020 Census data are released.

Oklahoma ties the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Okla. Const. art. V, § 11A]

Public input

The state House held several public hearings thus far, in December 2020 and January 2021, with a summary here.  The state Senate also held several public hearings in late 2020 and early 2021.

The state House and Senate have also approved rules for the public to submit maps.  Maps from the public must be statewide plans conforming to Oklahoma legal guidelines, but they are ostensibly due by Apr. 4, 2021, even though 2020 Census data won’t be available until August at the earliest.  (The legislature plans to draw initial state legislative maps using ACS data already available, reconvening if necessary once full data are released.)

Criteria

Like all states, Oklahoma must comply with constitutional equal population requirements.

Oklahoma must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

The state constitution provides that in drawing state Senate lines, “consideration shall be given to population, compactness, area, political units, historical precedents, economic and political interests, contiguous territory, and other major factors, to the extent feasible.” [Okla. Const. art. V, § 9A]

On Feb. 25, 2021, the legislative redistricting committees adopted further guidelines (House and Senate), which the legislature may alter as it wishes.  These guidelines provide that the congressional districts should have a total deviation not more than 1%, and state legislative districts should have a total deviation not more than 5%, with no individual district over 2.5% unless in consideration of a political boundary; districts will also be contiguous.  The districts will attempt to follow county and municipal boundaries, and long-standing communities of interest “based on social, cultural, ethnic, and economic similarities”; they may also seek to preserve the cores of existing districts.

2010 cycle

The Oklahoma legislature passed a congressional plan (HB 1527) on May 4, 2011, which was signed by the Governor on May 10, 2011.

The Oklahoma legislature enacted state Senate (SB 821) and state House (HB 2145) plans on May 16, 2011; both were signed by the Governor on May 20, 2011.  The state Senate plan was challenged in state court, and upheld.  [Wilson v. Oklahoma ex rel. State Election Bd., 270 P.3d 155 (Okla. 2012); Wilson v. Fallin, 262 P.3d 741 (Okla. 2011)]

Materials and maps for the state House are available here.

2000 cycle

The Oklahoma legislature deadlocked on a congressional plan, and on May 31, 2002, a state trial court drew the lines following the Governor’s proposal.  The congressional plan was challenged in state and federal court, and upheld.  [Alexander v. Taylor, 51 P.3d 1204 (Okla. 2002); Edwards v. Keating, No. 5:02-cv-00306 (W.D. Okla. 2002)]

The Oklahoma legislature enacted a state Senate plan (SB 619) that was signed on May 23, 2001; and a state House plan (HB 1515) that was signed on May 24, 2001.

Redistricting Cases in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma | State Supreme | Process
McCormick v. Moore
State court rejected challenge to ballot summary of proposed redistricting initiative
Last Updated May 27, 2020
Case Number

No. MA-118685 (Okla. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020
Oklahoma | State Supreme | Process
Merklin v. Moore
State court rejected challenge to ballot summary of proposed redistricting initiative
Last Updated May 27, 2020
Case Number

No. MA-118686 (Okla. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020
Oklahoma | State Supreme | Process
Gaddis v. Moore
State court rejected challenges to proposed redistricting initiative
Last Updated Feb 24, 2020
Case Number

No. MA-118405 (Okla. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020
Oklahoma | State Supreme | Process
Newberry v. Moore
State court struck ballot summary for proposed redistricting initiative
Last Updated Feb 24, 2020
Case Number

No. MA-118406 (Okla. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020