Passing on a wide bipartisan margin, the full Senate has given approval to the 2011 redistricting plan. Senate Bill 821 was approved Friday with a vote of 38 to 6. State Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, were co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Redistricting. Jolley, who presented the plan to the full Senate, said he was extremely pleased by the vote as well as the final district lines approved by members.
“I want to again express my thanks to members on both sides of the aisle, along with our committee members and Senator Bingman and our staff,” Jolley said. “It was a difficult, intensive task. Population changes meant no one’s district could remain the same, and no one could get exactly what they wanted, including me. But in the end I am extremely pleased with the final maps and how members of both parties and minority ethnicities spoke in favor of this plan.”
Jolley said the final district boundaries enabled a nearly perfect division of population, with each growing from just under 72,000 to about 78,000 people.
“Because some areas saw greater growth in certain areas, especially suburban communities, some districts had to decrease in size while others had to expand,” Jolley explained. “Not only did the population need to be nearly equal, we also had to adhere to the Voting Rights Act, which we did."
The new boundaries will take effect in November, 2012. For Senators who will not be up for election until 2014, that means they will be representing some new areas for those two years. This happens every ten years since the entire Senate is not up for election at the same time, according to Jolley. "Some people may be concerned that members who were elected would have to give up their seats if they were drawn out of them. That is not the case. Those Senators continue to represent their districts, regardless of where they are located."
“Ultimately, I believe everyone involved with the process not only met the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law as well. This is a plan that will stand the test of time,” Jolley said. “Again, I want to thank members of both parties for their hard work and acknowledge the incredible effort and professionalism of our Senate staff.”
To view or download high resolution maps of the current and new district lines, go to http://www.oksenate.gov/Senators/maps.aspx.